Will Linoy Ashram be “Big in Japan”?

Jul 3, 2021 | Jews in Sports

There’s no question that Linoy Ashram is going to be “Big in Japan” as Alphaville’s hit single back in 1984 states as she heads to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021 at the top of her game. The Israeli rhythmic gymnast is not only performing at her peak just in time for the world’s grandest stage, but Ashram is also number one in the world rankings as the curtain is about to raised.

Ashram has been waiting for this moment for quite some time, in fact an extra year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 22-year old will be in front of an audience of millions and millions and has been groomed for success, has trained for success and has continued to sharpen her skills to succeed for this moment in time over the last number of years as she scaled the ladder of success.

After competition had been suspended and the sport was thrown into chaos due to COVID-19, question marks were abound as Ashram’s future was placed into doubt. Many worried that those skills would have eroded after a long layoff but the champ continued to stay in shape and work on her trade in order to be able to compete at the highest of levels as she readied for the Tokyo Games this coming summer.

Desire and determination are the two characteristics which describe the modest Ashram as she has surpassed former blue-and-white Olympian Neta Rivkin while also becoming a role model for the younger generation inspiring those who want to be the best that they can be.

Ashram, who was the first ever Israeli to win a medal at the World Championships when she took home a pair of silvers in Sofia, Bulgaria began training at the age of seven and took part in her first international competition at 12 years old. Since then she’s just been unstoppable as her success has driven her to continue to hit the highest of heights.

Whether it’s Hoop, Ball, Clubs or Ribbon, the Israeli began to rake in the medals as her name continued to grow. As a junior, Ashram won bronze medals at the 2014 Junior European Championships which propelled her to the Youth Olympic Games in China where she was the Israeli flag bearer at the closing ceremonies. That same November she won her first competitive gold medal in the all around in Austria.

After a successful year, the Rishon Le’Zion native made her Senior circuit debut at the 2015 Moscow Grand Prix where she finished an impressive 4th in the all-around and from there the rest as they say was history. Ashram became a medal threat at every single competition she entered and took home 5 medals at the 2015 Brno, Czech Republic Grand Prix. 2016 saw Ashram continue to pick up the hardware winning a variety of medals in Eilat, Tashkent and Ljubljana.

2017 was another banner year for Ashram as she not only won 5 medals at the Maccabiah Games but also hit the jackpot at last year’s World Championships held in Pesaro, Italy. Ashram won a pair of bronze medals in the all-around and Ribbon exercises becoming the first Israeli rhythmic gymnast to win an individual all-around medal and the only the second Israeli to win a medal in the competition.

Ashram became the first Israeli to win gold in the all-around in the World Cup Series which she captured in May at the 2018 Guadalajara World Cup which was yet another sign of things to come for the starlet. At the 2018 and 2019 World Championships the Sabra continued to win more and more medals as she collected silvers and bronzes and vaulted towards the top of the world rankings. Whether it was in All-Around, Team, Hoop, Club, Ribbons or Ball, Ashram’s trophy case continued to fill up.

However, Ashram’s rise came to a screeching halt in March of 2020 when the coronavirus infiltrated very facet of life as the Olympic Games in the summer of 2020 in Tokyo, Japan were put on hold and that is when doubt began to enter the collective minds of Israeli sports aficionados.

How would Ashram handle the layoff? Would she be able to train? What would be with the Olympics and would they ever be played?

In the fall of 2020 we began to find out the answers to those questions as Ashram returned to active competition and the lights went back on for rhythmic gymnastics.

At the European Championships in Kyiv, Ashram took the gold in All-Around which includes all four disciplines in one overall event as she was able to overcome the current world number two Alina Harnasko from Bulgaria.

Next it was on to the Sofia World Cup where Ashram collected gold medals in the All-Around and Balls along with a bronze in Hoop. From Bulgaria, the next stop was Baku as the Israeli made sure Hatikva would be played twice with gold medal wins in Hoop and Clubs while in Pesaro, Italy Ashram picked up a gold in Ball, along with a pair of silvers in Hoop and Clubs.

What made the gold in Ball so impressive was that Ashram finished at the top of the podium ahead of the Averina twin sisters from Russia who along with Harnasko, are Ashram’s main rivals to medal at the Olympic Games.

From the trio of World Cups, Ashram was ready to make her mark at the 2021 European Championships in Varna, Bulgaria last month and make her mark she did. Gold in Clubs once again ahead of the Averina sisters along with a pair of silvers in Ball and Hoop left Ashram primed and ready to go for Tokyo.

“I’m glad I was able to do the best I can. It was hard, but every day I reset myself and said – ‘tomorrow I will come and be better’. The focus right now is on the Olympics, and we will continue to work hard,” Ashram said after winning.

The world is at her fingertips and Olympic glory is just minutes away for Ashram.

Will she be “Big in Japan”? According to the musical score for her Ball routine that is exactly what Ashram will be. Big in Japan and an opportunity to be legendary in Israel.

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