Israeli gymnast Daria Atamanov took home the gold medal on Saturday at the European rhythmic gymnastics championship held in Tel Aviv.
The 16-year-old took the lead after three events in the all-around competition, and scored a total of 136.900 points in all four events, guaranteeing her the gold.
“I’m a bit shocked. It’s exciting. It’s fun,” said Atamanov after her victory. “You don’t think about that while competing," the young gymnast said about the possibility of stepping up to the podium.
When asked about the Tel Aviv crowd, Atamanov said that “It gave me strength. It made me more driven. I really enjoyed performing here.”
Her coach, Ayelet Zussman, the gymnastics association’s chief coach and the one who trained Olympic gold medalist Linoy Ashram, admitted after the competition that she doesn't like to predict what's going to happen at an event and prefers to take things one step at a time.
"She [Atamanov] was just near-perfect in every routine. I’m very proud of her. I knew her routines were good enough for the top three, and [we] are very happy with this achievement,” the proud coach said.
Zussman stressed that Atamanov is “very quick, electrifying, and technically excellent in her performance.”
Atamanov opened the finals with the clubs event, where she scored 34.300 points. She then went on to register 33.050 points in the ribbon event. But her best score was achieved in the hoop event, which she executed just shy of perfection, at a high level of difficulty. The score in this event, 35.100, catapulted her to first place, which she maintained with 34.450 points in the ball event.
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The young gymnast, who trains at Hapoel Rishon Lezion under Zussman, has become the second Israeli in history to claim a European title. The first to do so was Linoy Ashram, who claimed the title in 2020. Following her retirement from competition this year, Ashram joined the Israeli national team’s coaching staff, and could be seen cheering Atamanov from the sidelines of the hall at Expo Tel Aviv. “Wow, it’s crazy,” Ashram said after the win. “The moment they announced that she was first I just cried. She works hard for this. She deserves it."
Another Israeli, Adi Katz, also qualified for the final, finishing 11th with a total of 124.450 points. Boryana Kaleyn of Bulgaria won the silver medal, and her compatriot Stiliana Nikolova took home the bronze.