Israel made sports history on Friday when it won its first-ever gold medal at the prestigious World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships 2023 in Valencia, Spain.
The Jewish state won the top prize amid stiff competition from China and championship host nation Spain, which took the silver and bronze medals, respectively. Israel's national team athletes – Eliza Banchuk, Adar Friedmann, Shani Bakanov, Romi Paritzki, Ofir Shaham and Diana Svertsov – performed a 3-minute ribbons and balls routine to secure their final win.
The Israeli team members expressed their excitement in an official statement.
“We were so happy that we were able to win this medal and get to shout the national anthem on the podium. This is the best feeling an athlete could have.”
Israeli Olympic medalist Yael Arad, who heads the Israeli Olympic Committee, praised the Israeli victory as a “distilled moment of supreme happiness behind which there are so many pit stops and thousands of hours of training.”
The Jewish state is no stranger to success in international gymnastics competitions.
In August 2021, rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram became the first Israeli woman to win a gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics.
“It’s what I dreamed of for all my life,” Ashram said. “It’s an amazing feeling to stand in this place, at this time, on the podium and in first place.”
Athletes with an immigrant background have played a prominent role in Israel’s growing sports achievements.
In June 2022, Daria Atmanov, at just 16 years old, secured a gold medal for Israel at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Tel Aviv. She grew up in Israel, the child of immigrants from Uzbekistan.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.