Has it ever happened to you that the achievements of one of your fellow countrymen or women have filled you with pride to such an extent that you choked up and your eyes filled with tears?
That’s how I (and many other Israelis) felt earlier this week, when our own Linoy Ashram brought home the Olympic Gold Medal in the Individual Rhythmic Gymnastics All-Round competition – despite a minor mistake in the final exercise, when she dropped the ribbon (but immediately scooped it up).
Israel’s win was a shock to the Russians, who have won this event every time for the past two decades and seem incapable of understanding that they do not have permanent rights of ownership over the Gold Medal. They immediately cried “Foul”, accusing the judges of bias, and conveniently forgetting that in the 2018 World Championships in Sofia, the situation was reversed, with the Russian Dina Averina beating Linoy Ashram to take Gold, despite the fact that Averina dropped the ribbon at that event!
This was Israel’s fourth medal at the Tokyo Olympics and our second gold. Earlier in the Games, Israel’s mixed judo team brought home a bronze medal, as did Avishag Semberg in Women’s Taekwondo, and a few days before Linoy’s win, Israeli artistic gymnast Artem Dolgopyat brought home the Gold in the Men’s Floor Exercises.
Gymnastics has not, until now, been a sport particularly associated with Israel, but the achievements of Artem and Linoy will no doubt inspire many local youngsters in the near future.
I may seem overly jingoistic, but Israel is not generally known for producing Olympic champions, and so, when that does happen, the sense of achievement is, for us, probably greater than for Americans, Chinese, Australians, Britons and Russians, who are used to sweeping the board at the Olympics. Not for the athletes themselves, but for those of us back home, watching with bated breath, and maybe even a muttered prayer. It was especially welcome, in light of the general atmosphere of gloom and doom due to the depressing news on the COVID front, with rapidly rising rates of infection, even amongst those who have already been vaccinated, and the increasing likelihood of a new lockdown over the High Holy Days.
All I know is, when I saw the Israeli flag being raised over the podium and heard our National Anthem, my chest swelled with pride and my eyes filled with tears.
I completely fully understand how you felt. I do. I would have felt likewise. I have had that pleasure only once, but I have done the same as happened to you. XX
Hearing HaTikva always makes me tear up! Well done young lady!