London 2012 Gymnastics Israeli Competitors Set Sights on Rhythmic Finals

Team hangs its hopes on hoop, ball and ribbon.

LONDON - Israel's rhythmic gymnasts enjoyed success last year at the World Championships, but unfortunately for them those events do not offer medals at the Olympic competition in the sport, which gets under way today in London.

Last September, in Montpellier, France, Israel won bronze in the 3 ribbons and 2 hoops event, while Neta Rivkin took Israel's first-ever rhythmic gymnastics medal when she claimed bronze in the individual hoop final. But the Olympics only offer medals in the all-around competition. Both the Israeli team and Rivkin placed tenth in those categories at the World Championships.

Still, after all the disappointments in London - and before Zohar Zemiro runs his marathon on Sunday - Rivkin and her teammates Moran Buzovski, Viktoriya Koshel, Noa Palatchy, Marina Shults, Polina Zakaluzny and Eliora Zholkovski will try to make a positive impression.

Rivkin, who was ranked 14th four years ago in Beijing, will seek to finish among the top 10 during the two qualification days, today and tomorrow. The qualification stage includes four apparatuses: hoop and ball today, and club and ribbon tomorrow.

The Israeli team competed in London earlier this year, in an Olympic trial held in January. It finished third to qualify. The goal is to reach the final by excelling in its strong events, the ribbon, hoop and ball.

Bouskila and Cohen end women's 470 event with a whimper

Israel's appearance at the sailing competition at Weymouth ended with another disappointment yesterday, as Vered Bouskila and Gil Cohen finished the women's 470 event without advancing to the medals round. The duo finished 12th and 17th in the ninth and 10th races, respectively, for an overall ranking of 15th.

"It slipped between our fingers," Cohen said after the final race yesterday. "We didn't utilize ourselves to the fullest at any stage of the competition." Cohen said that things didn't come together for the team and nothing went well.

"But that's the sport," she conceded. "I won't say that I'm not disappointed because it's a bummer. We came to London with the goal of returning with a medal, and it didn't work out."