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Former coach of Israel’s medal-winning gymnastics team switches to Russian squad

Ira Vigdorchik to prepare Russia’s rhythmic team for Paris Olympic games, where it is expected to come up against the Israeli delegation

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Ira Vigdorchik is seen during during a ceremony with the Israeli Olympic delegation competing ahead of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on June 23, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Ira Vigdorchik is seen during during a ceremony with the Israeli Olympic delegation competing ahead of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on June 23, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The former coach of Israel’s national rhythmic gymnastics team, Ira Vigdorchik, has signed up to work with the Russian squad instead. Vigdorchik confirmed the development in a statement.

Vigdorchik, who for years coached the Israeli troupe, was let go this year following the Tokyo Olympics.

Vigdorchik, 57, was given the position 10 days ago, Israel Hayom reported. She is considered to be close with the Russian gymnastics association where she is held in great esteem, according to the report.

Vigdorchik will prepare the Russian team for the Paris Olympics in 2024, where Israel is also expected to compete.

The Russians are also scheduled to be in Israel next year when the European Rhythmic Gymnastics competition is held in Tel Aviv.

Vigdorchik was born in the former Soviet Union and immigrated to Israel from Moscow in 1979. She coached the Israeli team from 2008 to 2021, with a one-year break in 2016.

Under her guidance, Israel’s team won more than 20 medals at competitions around the world including a European bronze medal in 2014, a silver medal the same year in the World Championships, and silver and bronze medals at the European championships in 2016.

Israel’s Linoy Ashram poses with her gold medal during the podium ceremony of the individual all-around final of the rhythmic gymnastics event, during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics center in Tokyo, on August 7, 2021. (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP)

Over the years Vigdorchik was involved in various controversies, including commenting in a tape leaked a month before the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games that Israeli individual gymnast Linoy Ashram has “no class.”

At the Tokyo games, Ashram won Israel’s first-ever gold in the rhythmic individual all-around competition, edging Russian favorite Dina Averina into the silver position. Averina’s twin sister, also considered a medal challenger, finished in fourth place.

In the team event, the Israeli squad under Vigdorchik finished in sixth place.

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