Rhythmic gymnast Daria Atamanov looks to cap breakout year with world title

The 16-year-old phenom from Israel will look to add World championships gold to European, World Games titles in 2022: "I can definitely say I have a higher level of confidence," she said.

By Scott Bregman | Created 14 September
Picture by European Gymnastics

Israeli rhythmic gymnast Daria Atamanov has had a breakout season in her senior debut.

The 16-year-old, a junior European champion in 2020 with clubs, made her first entry in her senior competitive resume with a silver medal in the all-around at the World Cup event in Athens, Greece.

But it was at June’s European Championships in Tel Aviv, where she truly made her mark.

That’s when she won the all-around gold, just the second Israeli to do so, joining Tokyo 2020 Olympic rhythmic gymnastics all-around champion Linoy Ashram.

She followed that success up with two individual apparatus golds at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama. Atamanov was the only competitor there to bag two golds.

Now, the Tel Aviv-born gymnast looks to continue her streak of success at the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Competition there gets underway on Wednesday (14 September) and she’ll be a favourite for gold along with hometown favourites Boryana Kaleyn, fifth at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, and Stiliana Nikolova. Italy’s Sofia Raffaeli is also likely to factor in the medals.

“I can definitely say that after the Europeans and The World Games I have a higher level of confidence,” Atamanov said, according to an interview with the International Gymnastics Federation. “I feel that in both competitions I gave a very good performance and I felt good about it, but there’s always room for improvement.

“The World Championships will be very challenging, I think. A lot of good gymnasts from all over the world will be there. As I said, I don’t like to talk about the expectations now in terms of winning medals. I can only say that I’ll give it my all and try to put out the best performance.”

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Winning would be a challenge, indeed.

If she pulled it off, Atamanov would be the first rhythmic gymnast to take the world title in her senior international debut season since Russia’s Yana Kudryavtseva won her first of three titles in 2013. Kudryavtseva went on to win Olympic silver at Rio 2016.

But gold is hardly on her mind.

“I try not to set a specific goal, like winning this or that medal,” Atamanov said. “I always have the same goal: to feel I gave it my all and put out the best performance on the carpet. My love for this sport is what inspires me the most. I just love it! It excites me and every time I’m on the carpet, I feel that fire inside.”

Coach Ayelet Zussman, who coached Ashram, echoed Atamanov’s assessment of her desire.

“Daria is a very intelligent and diligent athlete, a hard worker and a perfectionist, she is very sensitive but at the same time very determined,” she told Olympics.com in an email.

Those characteristics will be on full display in Sofia, as Atamanov attempts to become the first non-Russian or Ukrainian to capture the rhythmic world all-around title in more than 25 years.

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