Israeli athletes took home the first-ever gold medal at the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships 2023 in the group all-around category on Friday, winning top marks for a two-part routine that clinched first place at the contest in Valencia, Spain. It was an Israeli team’s first gold in the sport at the international competition and its second medal in the all-time event following last year’s silver.
On Friday, the Israeli team bested China and Spain, which took silver and bronze, respectively.
Their performance involved a three-minute ribbons and balls routine to a dance track interspersed with the chorus of 1998 Eurovision winner “Diva” by Israeli singer Dana International and a complex hoop routine of another three minutes to a more suspenseful track with a quote from the 2017 Wonder Woman film starring Israeli actress Gal Gadot.
Team Israel consisted of athletes Shani Bakanov, Eliza Banchuk, Adar Friedmann, Romi Paritzki, Ofir Shaham and Diana Svertsov.
In a statement cited by sports network Channel 5, the team said: “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.”
Olympic medalist Yael Arad, who chairs Israel’s Olympic Committee, said in an Instagram post that the victory was a “distilled moment of supreme happiness behind which there are so many pit stops and thousands of hours of training.”
The team is likely to compete at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
In 2021, rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram won the gold medal in the individual category in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, beating out tough competition and ending over two decades of Russian dominance in the sport.
Ashram was the first Israeli woman to win gold at the Olympics. Her victory was also Israel’s third-ever Olympic gold medal.
She announced her retirement as a competitor in the sport last year at the age of 22.
Ashram is an assistant trainer for Team Israel in the 2023 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships.