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Israel breaks Russia’s 24-year dominance over rhythmic gymnastics to win Olympic gold

Israel's Linoy Ashram broke Russia's dominance of 24 years on rhythmic gymnastics by winning the gold in Tokyo Olympics 2020

Israel’s Linoy Ashram pulled off a spectacular upset in the women’s rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around final of the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday, to become the first champion in the event from outside Russia since 1996.

Russian twin sisters, Dina and Arina Averina were the favourites for the top medals as they had qualified in first and second place respectively.

The 22-year-old Israeli relegated favourite Dina Averina of the Russian Olympic Committee to second place, while Arina came in at a disappointing fourth spot to narrowly miss a bronze medal. 

Dina broke down as the scores were announced, and said she felt the marks awarded to her were too low.  TV channels showed her sister Arina consoling her.

"It's very hard to talk at the moment. I can't agree with how the scoring went today," BBC News cited Dina as saying.

"And this is maybe the first time I disagree with the judges and I feel that Arina and I did not get a high enough score," she lamented.

Prior to Ashram's victory, Israel's best result in this event was a seventh-place finish by Neta Rivkin at London 2012.

"When I was young I dreamed to be in the Olympics and compete there; and then I go and take a gold medal. It's like a dream I think, like I'm not here," BBC quoted her as saying.

Alina Harnasko of Belarus won the bronze medal in the event.