Crowds of fans, family and friends gave Israel's Olympic gold medalist Linoy Ashram a rapturous welcome back at Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday as the rhythmic gymnastics team returned from Tokyo after the delayed 2020 Olympics.
Ashram won gold in the individual rhythm gymnastics competition on Saturday, outperforming the Russian gymnasts who have traditionally dominated the field.
"I want to give a huge thanks to all of you who came out today, for your warmth and love," Ashram said at the airport.
"You are the best crowd of people anyone could ask for," she said, again thanking her coach who she said "played a huge part in our success."
Ashram also thanked her sponsors, sports officials and the support staff for their part in her medal.
Her grandfather Avraham, who was also at the airport, told Ynet he was looking forward to giving his granddaughter a big hug.
"All of Israel loves Linoy's modesty. She is modest and sensitive and gave her all in Tokyo," he said. "We were all on edge during the competition and were extremely excited by her win. It took a while to calm down."
Ashram's win caused anger among the Russian rhythmic gymnastics delegation, which appealed the result, claiming Ashram did not deserve the high score and that her medal should have gone to Russian rival Dina Averina.
Some Russian politicians joined in the criticism and anti-Semitic posts quickly spread on social media after Ashram's win.
But Averina herself intervened on Monday, writing on social media that Ashram had done nothing wrong and that criticism of her on various platforms must end.
In an interview with Ynet earlier this week, Ashram said she was not making any plans for the near future and was looking forward to a long rest after years of hard work.
She would not say if she had any intention of competing for a place in the 2024 Olympic Games scheduled to take place in Paris.