Linoy Ashram & Sagi Muki are going for the gold

#45 - Linoy Ashram & Sagi Muki

By BY JOSH HALICKMAN
September 28, 2019 20:33
3 minute read.
Linoy Ashram & Sagi Muki are going for the gold

Linoy Ashram. (photo credit: GETTY IMAGES)

There’s no question that Linoy Ashram and Sagi Muki represent Israel’s best hopes to win a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games next summer, after the year these two athletes have had.

Ashram, a rhythmic gymnast, is at the top of her sport, raking in medal after medal in her discipline, while judoka Muki continues to do the same.

After the 20-year-old Ashram won a whopping six medals at the World Championships in September in Baku, Azerbaijan, she told the Olympic Channel: “I am proud to represent Israel here and, of course, going to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics would be a dream. It’s the dream of every athlete.”

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She won a pair of gold and silver medals this summer at the European Games in Minsk, Belarus, adding to the numerous other awards she has picked up over the course of the past year.

Whether it’s in the ball, hoop, ribbon, clubs or all-around events, the Rishon Lezion native is a threat to the world’s best, day in and day out.

The first Israeli to win a medal at the rhythmic gymnastics World Championships – taking home a pair of bronze medals in 2017 in Pesaro, Italy, and two silvers and a bronze in 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria – Ashram 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 reach for the top and hit the highest of heights.

Desire and determination are the two characteristics that 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.

Muki, meanwhile, is a man on a mission. Plain and simple, the 27-year-old Netanya native will go into the new year with one goal on his mind, to win the Olympic gold medal in Japan. After taking gold at the 2019 World Judo Championships in Tokyo in August, Muki will look to duplicate the result next year in the same venue.

The 5-foot-10-inch (1.78 m.) judoka began his international ascent in 2011, when he won the Under-20 European Cup in the under 73 kg. category – and the rest, as they say, is history. At the 2015 European Games, Muki took home the gold medal and then subsequently competed in his first Olympics at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, finishing in fifth place.

Muki continued his fine run, moving up a weight class to under 81 kg., which seems to fit him just fine. Not only did he win gold in Tel Aviv at the European Championships and the Grand Prix in January, he captured first place in Abu Dhabi, where “Hatikvah” was played – likely for the first time in a public forum in the United Arab Emirates.

But little did Muki know that this was just the beginning of his rise into the limelight, as he won the World Championships by beating one opponent after another to take home the top prize. Although his Egyptian rival refused to shake his hand, Muki came out in support of his Iranian counterpart Saeid Mollaei, who was forced to lose by his government in order not to face an Israeli competitor.

After Mollaei fled to Germany, Muki told The Jerusalem Post that his dream is to face the Iranian, shake his hand and give him a hug.

That way they will together not only give honor to each other, but make a statement that sport is above everything else. Hopefully, this will happen in Tokyo at the Olympic Games, with the pair facing off for the gold medal.


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