Israel exceeds expectations at their first ever European Championships

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Israel exceeds expectations at their first ever European Championships

June 22, 2016

Highlights of the 32nd European Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics in Holon (ISR)

From Friday to Sunday, Israel was the proud host of its first ever European Championships. Rhythmic Gymnastics is hugely popular in Israel with recent success at the 2015 European Games and the 2015 European Championships leading to medal prospects this year, at home in Holon.

With a capacity of nearly 3000 spectators, the Holon Toto Arena provided a great atmosphere for the 200+ gymnasts to compete in. All three days were sold out, adding to the success of the event.

Out of all the performances in Holon, we have picked 5 that we consider highlights, not necessarily because they won the gold medal but because of its special and / or historic value. Here’s our pick:

Ganna Rizatdinova ready for Rio

Ukraine’s leading lady performed 4 excellent routines, showing her competitors that she is in top shape and ready to challenge for a medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics which start in just 45 days. The only top gymnast not making a major mistake, she clinched the bronze medal, behind the Russian duo Kudryavtseva – Mamun, and saw her current form rewarded: “I’m very satisfied with my performances of today. I feel great. It was my final preparation to the Olympic Games in Rio. The championships is well organised and the people are very pleasant.”

Finland’s historic group performance

The last time the Finnish group made a senior final was 23 years ago, in the Romanian capital Bucharest. Progress announced itself already 5 years ago in Minsk, when the junior group reached the final. 4 of these ladies now compete together in this senior group. Having just missed Olympic qualification -the Finnish group is first reserve for Rio 2016- they have shown progress and determination, and this historic fifth place places their eyes firmly on Tokyo 2020.

Polina Shmatko: young talent

The most successful gymnast of these Europeans is also one of the youngest! Born on 26 March 2003, Russia’s Polina Shmatko is only 13 years old but competes with a maturity beyond her age. She was joined by teammates Maria Sergeeva and Alina Ermolova to clinch the team European title before adding two golds in apparatus finals, with ball and clubs. A name to remember!

The charming smile of Alexandra Agiurgiuculese

The 15-year-old graceful Italian delighted the audience with her stylish performances, always with a big smile on her face. She led her team to the bronze medal, qualifying to all apparatus finals -a feat only Bulgaria’s Yoana Nikolova matched. In those finals she shone brightly, adding another 3 medals, 2 silver and 1 bronze. An impressive collection!

Israel’s national anthem, the final swansong of the Championships

Israel can be very proud of these Europeans, with an excellent organisation and fabulous results. The senior group took bronze in the all-around behind Russia and Belarus, stepping up their effort on Sunday in the apparatus finals. With 5 ribbons the ladies’ performance clinched silver. In the final competition on Sunday evening, the exercise with 2 hoops and 6 clubs, the Israeli group was the first to perform. They did so brilliantly but had to wait and see what the other groups did. As more and more groups passed, and the Israeli score wasn’t surpassed, the hope of the gymnasts, delegation and crowd grew. After a nervous wait, the final ranking was confirmed: gold for Israel, what an end to these Championships!

Medal table

Russia won the most medals, 8 in total, 7 of which gold. Only the senior group failed to get onto the podium in both apparatus finals.

Country

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Total

Russia

7

1

-

8

Belarus

1

4

1

6

Israel

1

2

2

5

Italy

-

2

2

4

Spain

-

1

1

2

Ukraine

-

-

1

1

Bulgaria

-

-

1

1

 

Next stop for the Rhythmic gymnasts: the Rio 2016 Olympic Games!