Israel’s rhythmic gymnastics team made history by winning two gold medals at the 2023 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Valencia, Spain. The team, which consists of Shani Bakanov, Eliza Banchuk, Adar Friedmann, Romi Paritzki, Ofir Shaham and Diana Svertsov, topped the podium in the group all-around and the combined exercise events, beating out strong rivals from China, Spain and Ukraine.
A stunning performance with ribbons and balls
The team’s first gold medal came on Friday, August 25, when they performed a flawless routine with three ribbons and two balls. The routine was set to a dance track mixed with the chorus of “Diva”, by Israeli singer Dana International, who won the 1998 Eurovision song contest. The team scored 32.650 points, edging out China by 0.050 points and Spain by 0.400 points.
The team’s coach, Ira Vigdorchik, praised the girls for their execution and expression. “They were amazing. They showed their character, their emotions, their joy. They were confident and precise,” she said. The team’s captain, Romi Paritzki, said that they were happy to make history for Israel. “We are really happy that we managed to get this medal and that we got the chance to scream out the anthem from the podium,” she said. “It’s the best feeling any athlete can have.”
A second gold with hoops and Wonder Woman
The team’s second gold medal came on Sunday, August 27, when they performed another spectacular routine with five hoops. The routine featured music from Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s 2017 film “Wonder Woman”, which added to the team’s power and charisma. The team scored 38.150 points, surpassing China by 0.500 points and Ukraine by 0.750 points.
The team’s assistant trainer was none other than Linoy Ashram, who became the first Israeli woman to win an Olympic gold medal with her rhythmic gymnastics victory at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Ashram retired from the sport last year at age 22 and decided to help the team prepare for the world championships. “I think you can hear in my voice how excited we were and how we screamed yesterday, and what a crazy achievement we had yesterday,” Ashram said. “Undoubtedly, the girls work hard, together with an amazing team of coaches.”
A historic achievement for Israel
The team’s double gold at the world championships is a historic achievement for Israel, which has never won a gold medal in rhythmic gymnastics before. The team improved on its silver medal from last year’s world championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, which was also a first for Israel. The team also finished fifth in the hoop final this year.
The team’s success has made Israel a global powerhouse in rhythmic gymnastics, a sport that has been dominated by Russia for decades. Russia did not compete in this year’s world championships due to a doping ban imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). However, even without Russia, the competition was fierce and challenging.
The team’s gold medals have also secured its spot for the group competition at the 2024 Paris Olympics. The team had already qualified for the Olympics last year, but this year’s results confirmed its status as one of the top contenders for the Olympic podium.