Four years ago, Neta Rivkin was the youngest member of Israel's Olympic team, as the 17-year-old from Petah Tikva placed 14th in the individual rhythmic gymnastics competition at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
This summer, Rivkin is a seasoned international performer who will look to bring home Israel's first gymnastics medal of any kind.
Now 21, Rivkin is one of seven Israelis competing in rhythmic gymnastics this summer in London. Rivkin will compete individually in the event, while the Israeli team that finished 10th at the 2011 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship in Montpelier, France, will be one of 12 nations in the team competition.
The members of the Israeli team are Moran Buzovski (age 20, Petah Tikva), Victoria Koshel (21, born in Donetsk, Ukraine), Noa Palatchy (18, Rishon Leziyon), Marina Shultz (17, born in Cheliabinsk, Russia), Paulina Zakaluzny (20, born in Nizno Ukrainsk, Ukraine) and Eliora Zholkovski (19, Holon).
Rhythmic gymnastics, which debuted at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, is a women-only sport in which gymnasts perform routines accompanied by music, often using an apparatus like a hoop, ball, rope, ribbon or clubs. Rivkin won silver medals in the hoop and clubs events at the 2011 European Championships in Minsk, Belarus, and earned a bronze medal at the 2011 World Championship in Montpelier.
There are no single-appparatus competitions at the Olympics, however: medals are awarded purely in all-around competition, which means that Rivkin will need to step up her game with the rope, ribbon and ball - as well as in the free event (no apparatus) if she hopes to bring home a medal.
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