Israeli Rhythmic Gymnasts Fail to Fulfill Last Medal Hopes at the Rio Olympics

The team improved its performance in the second rotation, after less than perfect handling of a ribbon in the first, but failed to snag a medal, coming in 6th.

Team Israel performs during the rhythmic gymnastics group all-around final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 21, 2016.
Julio Cortez, AP

After finishing the preliminary phase in 6th place, Israel's rhythmic gymnastics team came in 6th again on Sunday, failing to fulfill the country's last hope for a medal at the Rio Olympics. The Russian team won the gold medal.

The Israeli team scored a relatively low 17.166 in their first rotation, the ribbon rotation, after less than perfect handling of a ribbon. In the mixed apparatus second round, the team scored 17.383. 

Israel's rhythmic gymnastics team compete using ribbons at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 21, 2016.
Mike Blake, Reuters

The team broke into the field's final after wowing the judges to make it into the sixth place. The top eight teams qualify for the final. The five gymnasts competing are Alona Koshevatskiy, Yuval Filo, Ekaterina Levina, Ida Mayrin and Karina Lykhvar.

A month ago it was hard to imagine the team would get its act together in time for Rio after a crisis over alleged abuse their coach, Ira Vigdorchik. The girls' parents signed a letter lamenting the coach's tactics after it was revealed that she allegedly kicked one of the team members a day before they took the world championship in Kazakhstan.

Vigdorchik is a colorful figure in the world of gymnastics, infamous for her grueling training regime and strict coaching style, but as famous for turning the team into a force to be reckoned with. The incident in which she allegedly kicked Ekaterina Levina was the only known case of physical contact with the players and her current position as head coach is still under restrictions due to it.

Nonetheless, when the team finished their second routine, the athletes ran into Vigdorchik's open arms, hugging her and head choreographer Zusman, pleased with what was the 18 and 19-year-old athletes' most important games of their careers.