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Linoy Ashram qualifies for Olympics with all-around bronze at world championship

Israeli rhythmic gymnast snags a total of 6 medals throughout competition; Nicol Zelikman likewise to compete in Tokyo after finishing 11th

Israel's Linoy Ashram (R) with her all-around bronze medal at the rhythmic gymnastics world championships in Baku, Azerbaijan on September 20, 2019, alongside gold and silver medalists Dina (center) and Arina Averina of Russia. (Screenshot: YouTube)
Israel's Linoy Ashram (R) with her all-around bronze medal at the rhythmic gymnastics world championships in Baku, Azerbaijan on September 20, 2019, alongside gold and silver medalists Dina (center) and Arina Averina of Russia. (Screenshot: YouTube)

Israeli rhythmic gymnastics star Linoy Ashram on Friday took home the bronze medal in the all-around contest in the world championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, her sixth medal of the competition and the most important since it gave her a ticket to next year’s Tokyo Olympics where she is the top Israeli hope for a medal.

Over several days, Ashram stood on the podium for each of the four contests on the different pieces of apparatus accompanying the performance: hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon. Three of those medals were silver and one bronze.

She also was part of the Israeli squad — along with Nicol Zelikman, Nicol Voronkov and Yuliana Telegina — that took silver in the team competition, behind Russia.

But the success in the all-around contest Friday was the most high-profile and the most important, since the combination of all four apparatuses is the only one to features in the Olympic games.

The 20-year-old Ashram was ranked first after the first round, but made several inaccuracies that eventually put her in third place with a total score of 89.700, behind identical Russian twins Dina and Arina Averina who took gold and silver, respectively.

It is Ashram’s third consecutive medal in the all-around contest at the world championships. In total she has won 12 medals in world championships over the past few years. All other Israeli rhythmic gymnasts in history, combined, have won three.

Nicol Zelikman, 18, of Kfar Saba also had a good championship, finishing in 11th place in the all-around contest and likewise qualifying for the Olympics, along with all the gymnasts who finished in the first 16 places.

It will be the first time Israel has two representatives in Olympic rhythmic gymnastics since 2008.

The team landed back in Israel on Sunday and was welcomed by dozens of people at Ben Gurion Airport.

“It took me time to comprehend what happened, but I am already looking toward Tokyo,” Ashram, a Rishon Lezion native, told reporters.

Ashram has racked up an impressive series of victories in recent competitions, making her a favorite to medal at the Olympic Games next summer.

Linoy Ashram competes in the hoop event of the rhythmic gymnastics individual final at the 2019 European Games in Minsk on June 23, 2019. (Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

In August 2018, Ashram won two golds and a bronze medal at the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup, setting a world record in the clubs event. A month later, she finished second in the world championships, the best ever performance by an Israeli gymnast.

Before the world championships, Ashram won seven medals at international competitions in 2019; three gold medals at the Grand Prix in March; and in June, she snagged two gold and two silver medals at the European Games.

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