Russia Fumes as Israel Ends Its Streak of Olympic Golds in Rhythmic Gymnastics

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Russia's Dina Averina reacts at the end of the individual all-around final of the Rhythmic Gymnastics event during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics center in Tokyo, Saturday.
Russia's Dina Averina reacts at the end of the individual all-around final of the Rhythmic Gymnastics event during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics center in Tokyo, Saturday.Credit: LIONEL BONAVENTURE - AFP

Israel's Linoy Ashram made history on Saturday not as only the first Israeli to win an Olympic gold medal in rhythmic gymnastics, but also as the first non-Russian gymnast to achieve first place in the sport in two decades – and Russia isn't happy about it.

Russia, it seems, is having a hard time accepting the loss – and the end of their hegemony over rhythmic gymnastics. The official Twitter account of the Russian Olympic Committee posted photos of gymnast Dina Averina, who took home the silver, receiving her scores, with the caption: "The pictures speak for themselves, the whole world has seen this injustice."

Averina, who had tried to appeal her scores but was rebuffed, complained after the competition was over. "The judging was strange," she said. "It wouldn't have been right if we didn't present an appeal. Our routines were very complicated, but the scores were low, and we therefore presented an appeal. Unfortunately, some of them were rejected."

Russian lawmaker Vitaly Milonov took out his anger on Ashram: "It was embarrassing to watch her," he said of the 2020 European all-around champion. "This isn't supposed to be an athletics competition – it's rhythmic gymnastics. She should have refused the medal, because what happened there was simply unjust."  

Linoy's win on Saturday also represents the first time that a country that is not a former Soviet bloc state has taken home the top prize, save for the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, which the USSR had boycotted.

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