Linoy Ashram, who brought home a gold medal in rhythmic gymnastics from the Tokyo Olympics last year, announced on Monday that she is retiring from the sport at age 22.
“Today, on this festive occasion, I am announcing my retirement from competition,” said an emotional Ashram, fighting back tears at a press conference on Monday. “Athletes need to know when to retire, and as far as I’m concerned, I achieved my dream. I reached my professional peak, and I decided that this is the right time to continue on the same path, but this time from the other side of the mat.”
Moving forward, Ashram will serve on the coaching staff for Israel’s gymnastics team.
In August, Ashram won the top spot in the rhythmic gymnastics all-around competition, beating out the heavily favored sisters from Russia, Dina and Arina Averina.
Ashram on Monday described her first practice session at the Olympic facility in Tokyo last summer, and the fears and stress she was experiencing.
“So many different thoughts passed through my head,” she recalled. “I told myself that I had reached the moment I had waited for for so long. I had finally arrived at the most important moment in my career, that I had worked toward for 15 years.”
Amid the wave of emotions, Ashram said, “I understood that I had arrived at the final station on my journey… I felt like a whole country was beneath my wings.”
Yael Arad, a former Olympic judoka medalist and the current president of the Israel Olympic Committee, said that Ashram is “an incredible athlete, but also an exemplary person… we will be by her side all the way.”
Ashram has been competing in international contests since 2014, and has close to 100 medals from various international competitions under her belt.
Going into the Tokyo Games, Israel had only one Olympic gold medal, from windsurfer Gal Fridman in 2004. Before Ashram took to the mat in Tokyo, fellow Israeli gymnast Artem Dolgopyat won a gold medal in the men’s floor exercise, Israel’s second, and then Ashram clinched the third at Israel’s best-ever Olympic appearance.
Dolgopyat, 24, has said that he intends to work toward competing at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.