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Alexander Shatilov cemented his place as one of Israel's top sportsmen on Saturday, winning the country's first ever medal at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships by finishing third in the floor exercise final at the O2 Arena in London.
The 22-year-old, who also won the bronze medal in the floor final at the European Championships in April, has shown steady improvement in recent years and could well prove to be one of the country's best medal hopes for the 2012 London Olympics, when the gymnastics events will also be held at the O2 Arena.
"I have no words to describe how I'm feeling," said Shatilov, who finished eighth in the same discipline at the Beijing Olympics last August.
"Finishing third is like finishing first for me, but I will do everything to progress.
"I've come close to winning a World Championship medal before and now that I have done it I dedicate it to the State of Israel," added Shatilov, who finished in seventh and fifth place respectively in the floor exercise at the last two World Championships.
Shatilov, who ended the all-around final in 11th place on Thursday, recorded a result of 15.575 points in his floor exercise and was pleased with the experience he gained at the O2 Arena.
"I competed for three days in London and have gotten used to the arena," he said. "I think I will be relaxed in 2012. I understand that the expectations are high, but if I continue the good work I will succeed."
Shatilov's coach Sergei Vaisburg was obviously delighted with his athlete's achievement.
"I'm very pleased. Both I and Alex were under a lot of pressure, but now we can breathe again," Vaisburg said.
Marian Dragulescu won the gold medal with a score of 15.700 points. It is the fourth world title in the event and seventh overall for Dragulescu, who briefly retired after the Beijing Olympics because of chronic back problems. Zou Kai of China, the Olympic champion on floor, was second.