Israeli gymnast Artem Dolgopyat scored the best-ever finish by an Israeli at the World Gymnastics Championships Saturday night, claiming the silver in the tightly fought floor exercise in the individual apparatus finals.
Twenty-year-old Dolgopyat scored 14.533 points for his routine, finishing 1.1 points behind Japan’s Kenzo Shirai, who racked up 15.633, and just ahead of American Moldauer Yul’s 14.500.
It was a third floor exercise crown for Shirai, the defending champion at the World Gymnastics Championships. All five apparatus titles decided at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium went to those who had taken crowns in 2015 at Glasgow in the previous edition of the worlds.
A relative newcomer on the international stage, Dolgopyat was making his first appearance at the competition.
“I know that it’s rare to achieve this at my first finals. I couldn’t have asked for more,” he said hours after the win. “I still can’t quite believe it.”
Dolgopyat is the second Israeli to stand on the podium at the competition, following his mentor and trainer Alex Shatilov, who took bronze in both 2011 and 2009.
Earlier this year, Dolgopyat finished fourth in the European Gymnastic Championships, one place behind Shatilov, who claimed the bronze. Shatilov, 30, considered Israel’s most successful gymnast, opted out of the World Championships due to the recent birth of a daughter.
“Alex is like a brother to me and I couldn’t have gotten here without him,” Dolgopyat told Army Radio. “I, and all of Israeli sports, owe him a lot.”