Rhythmic Gymnastics: Ashram wins individual gold in Tokyo, ends Russian dominance

Linoy Ashram top-scored in the first three apparatus rounds, surprising the favourites, Russian twins Dina and Arina Averina at the Tokyo Olympics.

Gold medallist Linoy Ashram of Israel poses on the podium after the Individual All-Around Final at the Tokyo Olympics.   -  Getty Images

Israel's Linoy Ashram won the individual all-around rhythmic gymnastics gold medal on Saturday, breaking a Russian stranglehold on the Olympic title that stretched back to 2000.

An Olympic medal event since 1984, rhythmic gymnastics sees athletes perform exquisite contortions and manoeuvres to music while using hoops, balls, clubs or ribbons.

Ashram top-scored in the first three apparatus rounds, surprising the favourites, Russian twins Dina and Arina Averina. The Israeli ended the competition with 107.800 points, narrowly beating three-time all-around world champion Dina Averina, who took the silver with 107.650.

Belarus' Alina Harnasko bagged bronze with 102.700. The Averinas contested their scores in two rotations but both of Dina's inquiries were unsuccessful, including one she made after Ashram was announced the winner.

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"I'm so happy that I did it - I came here and did my best," said Ashram, who sobbed as she was announced the victor. During qualification on Friday, she fumbled her hoop and was docked points.

On Saturday, however, she returned with a vengeance, tumbling and leaping with impeccable control, to win the first rotation with 27.550 points and kissing her hoop as she walked off the mat.

Ashram's start held her in good stead. Her strongest performance came with the clubs as she scored 28.650 to a Beyonce medley of 'Level up' 'Crazy in Love' 'Diva' and 'Run the World'.

Ashram's final rotation was a mixed bag - she dropped the six-metre ribbon once but her otherwise stellar performance scored her 23.3 points as she snaked and spiralled to 'Hava Nagila', which had the Arike Gymnastics Centre clapping along.

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