The Israeli women’s rhythmic gymnastics team made a solid start Saturday in the first rotation of the all-around competition’s qualifying stage at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The team scored 17.250 in the ribbon rotation, putting it in seventh place. The second rotation — hoops and clubs — was taking place later Saturday, and the finals will be held on Sunday.
The rhythmic gymnastics team represents Israel’s last realistic chance of a third medal at the Rio games, following its two bronze medals for judo.
On Friday, Israel’s Neta Rivkin failed to advance past the qualifying rounds in the individual rhythmic gymnastics, when her final total score of 69.223 was not enough to earn her a place in the top 10.
Rivkin performed well in the first rotation, the ball, earning a score of 17.866 and landing herself the sixth spot out of 26.
But she dropped the hoop and the ribbon in the next two rotations, scoring 17.041 and 16.783, respectively. Her final score of 17.533 for the clubs rotation was not enough to push her through.
In an interview with the Hebrew-language Walla news website two weeks ago, Rivkin called rhythmic gymnastics a sport “that takes you to the brink of your abilities.”
“Let’s just say that most of what we do is stuff the human body is not meant to be doing,” she said. “Every element of every exercise requires thousands of rehearsals to reach perfection, and then you still continue practicing it.”
Rivkin, 25, described her grueling training, saying that “full-time employment for a person in an office is 180 hours a month. I train for 270 hours, and then it is all funneled to 90 seconds of performing.”
The gymnast noted in the interview that she was one of just three Israeli athletes who made it to the Olympics in her field. She also competed in the Olympics in London in 2012, where she finished seventh overall.
Rivkin carried the Israeli flag at the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics, leading the country’s record-breaking delegation of 47 athletes participating in 17 sports.
Israel has so far claimed two medals in the 2016 Games, with judokas Or Sasson and Yarden Gerbi both winning a bronze.