Israelis’ mixed emotions as silver medal is dedicated to lost love
Artistic Gymnastics silver medal winners Noa Yakar Kazado and Yonatan Fridman shed tears along with grieving coach as the first Youth Olympic Games gold medal is won by Bulgarian pair.
After performing a routine full of grace and teamwork in the acrobatic gymnastics mixed pair final, silver medallists Noa Yakar Kazado and Yonatan Fridman from Israel leapt into the arms of coach Shiran Ouaknine, who blew kisses and looked to the heavens. Though the first Youth Olympic Games gold in the discipline went to Mariela Kostadinova and Panayot Dimitrov (BLR), the silver meant everything to Ouaknine, who dedicated the medal to her late boyfriend.
“He passed away in a motorcycle accident in April this year,” Ouaknine said, after the trio had shed tears of happiness. “Noa, Yonatan and me have done everything to win a medal here. I am sure that he looked down on us today.” Fridman said: “We are like a family and we spend a lot of time together. That made us stronger and helped us to this medal. It is something we worked for as a team. We do a lot of things outside the gym. We go to the movies or go out for bowling, for example. Noa really is a great friend for me. She understands me and knows when to push me. I love to work with her.” The pair also attend school together.
Kostadinova and Dimitrov finished just 0.260 points ahead of the Israeli pair, as the discipline made its debut, comprising balance exercise, dynamic exercise and the combined exercise. The best eight teams from 12 mixed pairs qualified for the final. “We dreamt about winning this medal and to have this dream come true is really amazing,” Kostadinova said. “It has been very important for us to be here.”
Mariela Kostadinova and Panayot Dimitrov (BUL) on the way to gold in the mixed pair final at the America Pavilion (Joel Marklund for OIS/IOC)The bronze medal was won by Daryna Plokhotniuk and Oleksandr Madei (UKR). “We are super happy to have won this medal, but more so about competing at these first Youth Olympic Games in our sport,” Madei said. “It is a very big step forward for acrobatics. We want to make our sport known and the only way to do that is by having these competitions.”