Bulgaria claims rhythmic gymnastics group all-around title at Tokyo 2020

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Team Bulgaria pose for photo at the awarding ceremony of the group all-around of rhythmic gymnastics at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, Aug. 8, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Bulgaria snatched gold in rhythmic gymnastics group all-around at Tokyo 2020 on Sunday.

The Bulgarian team topped the competition in 92.100 points, followed by defending champion Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) in 90.700 points.

The Bulgarian squad, consisting of Simona Dyankova, Stefani Kiryakova, Madlen Radukanova, Laura Traets and Erika Zafirova, finished the first in qualification and topped both rotations in the final.

In the first rotation of five balls, the Bulgarian gymnasts led the competition in a high of 38.800 points. Their scores for both difficulty and execution were unparalleled.

They managed to extend their advantage in the second rotation with a 36.200-difficulty routine in three hoops and two clubs, slightly surpassing the ROC team by a margin of 0.050 points.

"It's so unreal, we cannot believe it. I don't know what to say. This is the happiest moment ever," said Kiryakova. "We put so much into these five years, so much work. We always believed we would be here, but it's still so unreal."

The ROC gymnasts, the second qualifying team, performed the last on the arena and placed second in both rotations. They submitted an inquiry for their three hoops and two clubs and received a 0.300 addition but it was not enough to upset their Bulgarian contenders.

"I think we did our best. We competed at our maximum and we were fighting for our country, we were fighting for our individual gymnasts, we were fighting for our team, and we were fighting for out coaches," said ROC gymnast Anastasiia Maksimova.

Russia had been dominating the group all-around event in rhythmic gymnastics, winning five consecutive Olympic gold medals.

The Italian team took bronze in 87.700 points. "We are very happy today, it's like a dream. We hope that all the people that follow the competition are happy like we are. This medal means to us a lot of years in the gym to try again, again our exercise and I think that this is all," said Italy's Alessia Maurelli.

The Chinese team finished the fourth in 84.550 points.

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