Israeli rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram has won a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
This is the first time since 2000 that a rhythmic gymnast who is not Russian has taken the title at the Olympic Games.
Ashram, 22, scored 27.550 in the hoop routine and 28.300 and 28.650 in the ball and clubs disciplines, respectively.
"It was an incredible feeling to stand on the podium in first place," Ashram told Israel's Sports Channel after her win, "a crazy experience." She added, "I still haven't processed it, I'm at the height of my excitement... Did it happen? Is this a dream? Is it real?"
She later told Haaretz, "I knew I could win a medal, but I didn't think about which color. Since I was little, I dreamed just about being at the Olympics, not at all about the podium and definitely not about first place."
Ashram showed a strong performance throughout the contest, but dropped her ribbon in the final routine, ultimately scoring 23.000, which was enough to keep her at the top of the board and beat her strongest rivals, twins Dina and Arina Averina from Russia.
Dina Averina, a three-time world champion, took the silver, while Belarus's Alina Harnasko bagged bronze.
- Russia Fumes as Israel Ends Its Streak of Olympic Golds in Rhythmic Gymnastics
- Israeli Gymnast Artem Dolgopyat Makes History, Nabs Gold Medal at Tokyo Olympics
Ashram and fellow gymnast Nicol Zelikman, 20, both competed on Saturday, the first time that two Israeli gymnastics have secured a spot in an Olympic final.
Ashram was marked as Israel's rising star in rhythmic gymnastics after winning 11 medals in World Championships in recent years.
Speaking to reporters, Linoy said she always knew she could win a medal. "I've dreamed of being in the Olympics since I was little. I finally did what I've always dreamed of doing."
Zelikman scored 23.700 in the hoop routine, 24.150 in the ball routine and 25.600 in the clubs discipline. She was ranked seventh after earning 22.150 for her ribbon routine.
In 2019, Ashram won five medals – two gold, one bronze and two bronze – at the World Cup rhythmic gymnastics competition in Sofia.
So far Israel has 4 Olympic medals at Tokyo 2020 and 13 overall. Ashram is the first Israeli woman to win a gold at the Olympics.
On Sunday, Israeli gymnast Artem Dolgopyat has won the gold medal for the floor exercise at the Tokyo Games – Israel's first at the 2020 Olympics.
Reuters contributed to this story.