Israeli artistic gymnast Artem Dolgopyat made history on Sunday by winning an Olympic gold medal — Israel’s second ever — in the men’s artistic gymnastics floor exercise competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Ukrainian-born Israeli, who won with an overall score of 14.933, beat stiff competition from the Chinese and Spanish gymnasts and bagged Israel’s first ever gold medal in the sport.
Windsurfer Gal Friedman won the country’s other gold medal in 2004 in Athens.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett congratulated Dolgopyat on Twitter, saying the gymnast brought “tremendous pride and excitement for all the people of Israel.”
“How long we’ve waited to see the Israeli flag and to hear [the national anthem] Hatikva” at the Olympics, the prime minister added.
איזה רגע! התקווה! ארטיום דולגופיאט, הרגע הזה הוא שלך ואנחנו מצדיעים pic.twitter.com/COjqf7eEVd
— חגית קלימן – Hagit Klaiman (@klaiman14) August 1, 2021
Bennett interrupted a cabinet meeting to call Dolgopyat in Tokyo and congratulate him personally.
“Artem, you champion, you made history today!” tweeted President Isaac Herzog.
Speaking to reporters, Artem said he was “at a loss for words.”
“I’m still in the sky. It’s difficult for me to return to earth. But I want to say thank you to all those who supported me, I love you all.”
He added that his performance was not his best, but that to his fortune, the other competitors were equally nervous and made mistakes and it was enough to win him the gold.
A day earlier saw Israel winning two bronze medals in mixed judo and women’s taekwondo under 49 kg weight class.