Gymnast Linoy Ashram, the silver medalist in the all-around at the world championships, landed in Israel on Friday to a warm reception.
Ashram was greeted by her family, friends and members of her sports club Hapoel Rishon Lezion. “It’s an amazing feeling” said Ashram at a press conference at Ben-Gurion International Airport. “Lots of people came to support me and it felt great to get such a welcome.
“It still hasn’t sunk in” said the 19-year-old rhythmic gymnast of her three medals, two silver and one bronze from the competition. “It will take a few more days to take it in and then we draw a line and move on” she said.
She opened the world championship with an uncharacteristic drop of the ball on two occasions, but she recovered in crunch time. “It was long, hard and exhausting” she said. “I didn’t succeed on the first day, it wasn’t a good day, but I’m glad I managed to recover and get a silver medal the next day, in the hoop routine. I told myself the most important day was the last one and that’s where I had to do my best.”
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Ayelet Zussman, one of Ashram’s two trainers, also noted the improvement that occurred during the competition: “We knew there would be a dip. A gymnast can’t sustain such concentration for five days. We were glad it happened at the beginning and in a routine she’s strong in – we took it positively. We told her throughout the competition, when things got hard, that she was the best one there, both mentally and physically. She’s one of the toughest in the world.”
Elena Kopylenka, Ashram’s other coach, added that the medal was a surprise. “Looking at the Russians, we didn’t believe we could outscore them. I’m very happy, pleased and proud.”
Ashram described her feelings during her final routine, which landed her the silver medal. “The final apparatus was the hardest. On other days we did only one per day, but now we had to deal with four different ones in a row. The final one was more difficult and tiring but I didn’t give it much thought. During the final routine I felt good since I’d already completed the first three. It was the clubs routine which is upbeat. I enjoyed doing it. It was the last time I was on the mat so I tried to do it in the best way possible. I enjoyed every minute.”
“This is a historic medal – the first silver medal in the all-around category” said the gymnast, fully aware of the greatness of her achievement. “There were a lot of news stories and people wrote me in support. I think that on one hand it made some commotion here, but it put Israel on the global map of rhythmic gymnastics. I’m glad I represented Israel honorably and I’ll continue doing so. I hope I’m opening the door for other girls.”