Israeli gymnast wins gold at European championships in category dominated by former Soviet countries

Gabe Friedman

(JTA) — Israeli gymnast Linoy Ashram won a gold medal in the individual rhythmic category at the European Championships on Sunday, becoming the first athlete to win the prize in decades who was not from a former Soviet country or Bulgaria.

Ashram edged out Alina Harnasko of Bulgaria in a nearly unprecedentedly close tiebreaker.

Israel also won the group rhythmic gymnastics gold at the competition in Kyiv, Ukraine. Several highly rated teams from Russia, Bulgaria and Italy did not participate this year due to the logistical complications of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ashram, a 21-year-old Israeli defense forces veteran born to Mizrahi and Sephardic parents, will represent Israel at the Tokyo Olympics, which has been rescheduled to summer 2021.