Israel finish Olympics with two bronzes


Israel's hopes of a third medal to add to the two bronzes won in judo were dashed on the final day in Rio when the rhythmic gymnastics team put in an impressive performance but only finished in sixth place.

And the team coach later hit out at what she described as "non-objective" judging and other teams being allocated far better training conditions than Israel.

Their five gymnasts - Alona Koshevatskiy Ekaterina Levina, Karina Lykhvar, Ida Mayrin and Yuval Filo were let down by poor handling in the ribbon event but finished strongly in the clubs and hoops.

Coach Ira Vigdorchik claimed politics played a part in Israel's final position. She said: "I never expected to win a medal, but even if we were to perform without any mistakes, there was no chance to bring one back from Rio."

"There is a situation that happens only at the Olympics. In every other competition the contest begins with every country bringing a judge, including us.

"But as soon as we come to the Olympics and we don’t have a representative we have a problem. Spain has a judge in the International Gymnastics Federation, Bulgaria has a judge, Japan has a judge. These are strong countries and we have no way to deal with it."

The Israeli team finished with a total score of 34.549 points, well behind gold-medallist Russia’s 36.233 points.

Spain and Bulgaria tied for the silver both with 35.766. Israel’s team, which won a gold in the hoops and clubs discipline at the European Championships in June, had been considered the country’s best hope for gold at the games.

That result meant that Israel's record 47 strong Olympic squad returned home from Rio with two bronze medals and seven appearances in finals – both better and worse than the single medal and 10 finals that Olympic Committee of Israel head Gili Lustig had defined as his yardstick for success.

Lustig said: "Especially after London, when we came home without a medal, we wanted first and foremost to come home with at least one medal and I'm glad that we achieved two.

"We also had our first female sportsperson on the medal podium since 1992 and a superb performance in the triple jump by Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko who finished fifth and improved on the previous best ever Israeli Olympic athletics result by Esther Roth, who finished sixth in the 100 meters hurdles in Montreal in 1976."

While insisting that the Israeli squad's overall performance was a success and that taking 47 competitors to Rio to compete in a record 17 sports was "an achievement in itself," he expressed disappointment in the number of finals that Israel reached and named names.

"We expected more finals and had a number of good candidates such as Golan Pollack and Gili Cohen (judo), Alex Shatilov (gymnastics), Sergey Richter (shooting), Yakov Toumarkin (swimming), Shahar Zubari (windsurfing) and Ilana Kratysh (wrestling).

"We expected more from them, but nevertheless, I would have settled in advance for the results that we achieved."

Other disappointments in the closing days of competition were Ron Atias in taekwondo who bowed out in the opening round and Neta Rivkin, who failed to reach the final of the rhythmic gymnastics individual competition. In golf, Laetitia Beck finished in a creditable 31st place, midway among the 60 competitors.

Olympic Committee of Israel Sports Director Danny Oren said: "We'll have to analyse the sporting performances thoroughly and draw conclusions so we can improve for 2020.

"We'll have to do some soul searching in swimming where we expected much better. We have to work in a much more focused way in sailing as we do in judo and in athletics we were very disappointing with the exception of Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko."

Jordan won its first-ever Olympic medal when Ahmad Abu Ghaush took gold in the taekwondo Under 68 kilogram category. His parents hail from the Israeli village of Abu Ghosh near Jerusalem, which is planning a reception for the Olympic champion.

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