Dina Averina wins record-breaking fourth straight world all-around title to become most-decorated World Championships gymnast

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medallist becomes the first gymnast to win four all-around World Championships crowns, and has won them consecutively from 2017–2019 and again this year. She now has 18 career Worlds golds and 22 medals in total, the most in history.

By ZK Goh
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

There's no stopping Dina Averina at the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships.

The 23-year-old, representing the RGF team, won her fourth consecutive all-around title with an awesome display on Saturday (30 October) in Kitakyushu, Japan – becoming the first gymnast to win the crown four times.

Only four other athletes have won three – her fellow Russians Yana Kudryatseva from 2013–2015 and Evgeniya Kanaeva from 2009–2011, and Bulgaria's Maria Petrova (1993–1995) and Maria Gigova (1969, 1971, 1973).

Aside from a surprise at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, when she finished second behind Israel's Linoy Ashram – who is sitting out these Championships – Averina has been the dominant force in rhythmic gymnastics over the past Olympic cycle, as she won 13 total world championship gold medals (including all five on offer in 2018 in addition to team gold).

In Kitakyushu, her triumph on Saturday – coupled with gold medals earlier in the week in the apparatus finals for the hoop, ball, and clubs, as well as in the team standings – took that tally to 18.

That also makes her the most-decorated rhythmic gymnast ever, overtaking Kanaeva (17 golds, 18 total medals). Averina now has 22 career Worlds medals of all colours.

When Averina saw her total score of 108.4 in the kiss-and-cry, she hugged her coach before holding up four fingers for the camera.

Averina began strongly on the hoop, performing to an interpretation of AC/DC's Thunder. She looked tense but settled into the routine, scoring a solid 28 points – higher than her scores in both qualifying (27.85) and in the apparatus final (27.75).

A time penalty in her ball routine did not stop her from putting in the top score on that apparatus of 28.25, although it was lower than her prior marks from earlier in the week. A near-flawless clubs routine was worth 28.7 points, before the ribbon – arguably Averina's weakest apparatus and the only one in which she did not win gold this week – scored her 23.45 points after an error on a throw saw her have to make a big effort across the floor to catch it.

The only woman to deny Averina gold this week was Alina Harnasko in the ribbon final, and the Belarusian performed strongly on Saturday to clinch silver.

A noticeable error on the ribbon cost the 20-year-old points as she scored only 22.85 in that routine, well down from her 23.95 that won the apparatus final.

However, Harnasko – the Tokyo bronze medallist – proved once again that she is a constant threat to win major medals with an impressive overall performance that received a total of 105.3 points.

Bronze went to Dina's twin sister Arina Averina, who was not at her best today and in truth could have challenged Harnasko for silver if not for some glaring mistakes.

Arina received a total of 103.2 points, but will be especially disappointed at her hoop routine, in which a couple of throws went wild, netting her a 24.15 score that was three full points lower than that in qualifying.

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