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Tokyo 2020

Artistic gymnast Artem Dolgopyat wins Israel’s 2nd-ever Olympic gold

24-year-old takes top place on the podium with stunning floor exercise, scoring 14.933 and besting tough Spanish and Chinese competition

  • Artem Dolgopyat of Israel, poses after winning the gold medal after the floor exercise artistic gymnastics men's apparatus final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, August 1, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
    Artem Dolgopyat of Israel, poses after winning the gold medal after the floor exercise artistic gymnastics men's apparatus final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, August 1, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • Israel's Artem Dolgopyat competes in the floor event of the artistic gymnastics men's floor exercise final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. (Loic VENANCE / AFP)
    Israel's Artem Dolgopyat competes in the floor event of the artistic gymnastics men's floor exercise final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. (Loic VENANCE / AFP)
  • Gold medallist Israel's Artem Dolgopyat celebrates on the podium of the floor event of the artistic gymnastics men's floor exercise final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. (Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)
    Gold medallist Israel's Artem Dolgopyat celebrates on the podium of the floor event of the artistic gymnastics men's floor exercise final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. (Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)
  • Israel's Artem Dolgopyat celebrates after competin in the floor event of the artistic gymnastics men's floor exercise final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. (Loic VENANCE / AFP)
    Israel's Artem Dolgopyat celebrates after competin in the floor event of the artistic gymnastics men's floor exercise final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. (Loic VENANCE / AFP)
  • Gold medalist Israel's Artem Dolgopyat celebrates on the podium of the floor event of the artistic gymnastics men's floor exercise final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. (Jeff PACHOUD / AFP)
    Gold medalist Israel's Artem Dolgopyat celebrates on the podium of the floor event of the artistic gymnastics men's floor exercise final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. (Jeff PACHOUD / AFP)
  • Artem Dolgopyat of Israel celebrates after winning the gold medal on the floor exercise during the artistic gymnastics men's apparatus final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, August 1, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
    Artem Dolgopyat of Israel celebrates after winning the gold medal on the floor exercise during the artistic gymnastics men's apparatus final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, August 1, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
  • Israel's Artem Dolgopyat competes in the artistic gymnastics men's floor exercise final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. (Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)
    Israel's Artem Dolgopyat competes in the artistic gymnastics men's floor exercise final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. (Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)
  • Israel's Artem Dolgopyat celebrates after winning gold in the floor event of the artistic gymnastics during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on August 1, 2021. (LOIC VENANCE / AFP)
    Israel's Artem Dolgopyat celebrates after winning gold in the floor event of the artistic gymnastics during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on August 1, 2021. (LOIC VENANCE / AFP)
  • Artem Dolgopyat of Israel poses after winning the gold medal on the floor exercise during the artistic gymnastics men's apparatus final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, August 1, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
    Artem Dolgopyat of Israel poses after winning the gold medal on the floor exercise during the artistic gymnastics men's apparatus final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, August 1, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Israeli gymnast Artem Dolgopyat won Israel’s second-ever Olympic gold medal Sunday, beating out tough Spanish and Chinese competition in the artistic gymnastics floor exercise competition to take the top spot on the Tokyo 2020 podium.

Dolgopyat, a 24-year-old two-time world championship silver medalist who immigrated to Israel from Ukraine at the age of 12, was considered Israel’s best hope for a gold medal at this year’s games.

His final round routine Sunday impressed judges, scoring him 14.933, giving him a total ahead of Spain’s Rayderley Miguel Zapata, who took silver and China’s Xiao Ruoteng, who won the bronze medal.

After Russian team gold winner Nikita Nagornyy was marked down after over-rotating and stumbling on his trademark triple pike tumble, Zapata looked destined for the title.

But Dolgopyat turned the Spaniard’s gold into silver when his routine matched Zapata’s score of 14.933, and with their execution mark also the same, it went down to the difficulty level, with Dolgopyat taking the title by just 0.100.

Dolgopyat had ranked first in the qualifying event after scoring 15.2.

Artem Dolgopyat of Israel performs on the floor exercise during the artistic gymnastics men’s apparatus final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, August, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

The gold medal is only the second in Israeli history, following windsurfer Gal Friedman’s 2004 win in Athens.

Israel’s national anthem, Hatikva, rang out as the Israeli gymnast accepted his medal to huge applause.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett applauded Dolgopyat for “making history.”

He said the gymnast brought “immense pride and excitement to all of Israel.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett interrupts the cabinet meeting in Jerusalem to congratulate Israeli artistic gymnastics gold medalist Artem Dolgopyat at the Tokyo Olympics, as other ministers applaud, August 1, 2021 (Amos Ben-Gershom / GPO)

Bennett interrupted a cabinet meeting to call Dolgopyat in Tokyo and congratulate him, as fellow ministers applauded.

“Artem, you champion, you made history today!” tweeted President Isaac Herzog.

Speaking to reporters after the medal ceremony, Dolgopyat said he was “speechless.”

“I’m still in the sky and it’s hard to come down,” he said, thanking supporters in Israel and saying, “I love you all.”

“I didn’t do my best routine… and I was worried it wouldn’t be enough for a medal… but everyone else was nervous and made mistakes and it was enough,” he said of his winning routine. “When I saw that my score wasn’t very high, I was worried.”

From left, Xiao Ruoteng of China, Artem Dolgopyat of Israel and Rayderley Zapata of Spain, pose with their medals for men’s floor exercise during the artistic gymnastics men’s apparatus final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, August 1, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Asked how an athlete celebrates winning a gold medal, he said, “It’s my first so I don’t know yet.”

Also taking part in a final Sunday will be Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko, who will compete in the women’s triple jump medal fight at 2:15 p.m. (Israel time).

Israel’s Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko competes in the final of the women’s triple jump athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium in London on August 7, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Andrej ISAKOVIC)

Earlier Sunday, Noya Bar Am and Shahar Tibi competed in windsurfing in the women’s 470 races 7 and 8, finishing in eighth place.

Israel’s Yoav Cohen finished in first place in the Men’s RS:X Windsurfing final race on Saturday, but it was not enough to put him on the podium, with the Israeli coming in fourth overall.

Israel’s Yoav Cohen competes during the rs:x men’s race at the Enoshima harbour during the 2020 Summer Olympics, on July 28, 2021, in Fujisawa, Japan. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Early Sunday, at around 4 a.m. in Israel, Adva Cohen took part in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase qualification race, but finished last.

Saturday saw Israel clinch its second medal of the games, winning the judo mixed team bronze. The team scored a victory over their Russian opponents in the consolation round of an event being held for the first time this year.

Also Saturday, Israeli archer Itay Shanny’s surprise Olympic run ended when he lost in the last eight in the men’s individual competition after a dramatic shoot-off was needed to separate him from eventual victor Tang Chih-chun. He had placed 60th out of 64 competitors in the initial ranking round.

Israel’s Itay Shanny competes in the men’s individual eliminations during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Yumenoshima Park Archery Field in Tokyo, on July 31, 2021. (Adek Berry/AFP)

Israel’s swimmers also finished 8th in the Olympic debut of the 4×100-meter mixed medley relay after a strong display to make the final.

Avishag Semberg’s taekwondo bronze in the women’s -49kg category last week was Israel’s first medal at the games until the mixed team’s win.

See the full Olympics schedule for Israel’s athletes here.

AP contributed to this report.

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