Israeli Olympic gold medalist rhythmic gymnast said Monday she "doesn't think" about the criticism leveled at her by the Russian team, which accused the judges of giving Linoy Ashram favorable treatment during an all-around event in Tokyo.
The 22-year-old stunned the world and won a gold medal on Saturday after topping a stiff competition in the individual final. She became the first-ever Israeli woman to bag gold at the Summer Olympics and the second Israeli to win the top prize in Tokyo after gymnast Artem Dolgopyat did the same on Sunday in the men's artistic gymnastics competition.
Ashram's win caused an uproar in Russia, which counted on its decorated gymnast Dina Averina to take home the gold medal instead of silver. Since her win, Russian sports officials and some politicians in Moscow have claimed the results were rigged.
Ashram became the first non-Russian rhythmic gymnast to win the coveted Olympic gold medal in the prestigious competition since the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.
In an interview to Ynet on Monday, Ashram - who is still in Tokyo - said she was proud to represent her country and dismissed the criticism.
"I was not alone in this achievement," she said. "This is a win for my coach Ayelet [Sussman], and the entire country. I received so much support from my sponsors from the get-go and was able to train under the best possible conditions."
She also thanked the Olympic Committee, the Rythmic Gymnast Association and the Wingate Institute, where she had been training.
"I worked very hard and am pleased to come home with such a result," Ashram said. "I cannot wait to come home and hug my parents and celebrate with them."
Ashram said she doesn't hold hard feelings toward her Russian counterpart, although she was surprised by her alleged lack of "sporting spirit" after Averina snubbed the Israeli athlete's post-final hug.
"I came over to her [after the win] to say 'well done' and hug her, as we do after every competition. All the gymnasts come over to each other to say 'congratulations.' I did my part and that's it.
"I am concentrating on my win, my achievement," she said. "Ayelet and I worked hard for it and I don't think about what anyone, including the Russians, are saying."
Dolgopyat, who already returned to Israel, said rhythmic gymnastics has always been a very political sport.
"I just kept my fingers crossed for Linoy and hoped she would do her thing. She was lucky that the judges ruled as they should have done," he told Ynet on Monday joining Ashram for the interview from his home.
"The Russians are usually treated more gently by the judges and they are fine with that but when the results don't go their way, they get mad. I understand Linoy and also what had happened," he said.
Asked whether he had any tips to give Ashram about what to expect when she returns, Dolgopyat said he prefers not to ruin any surprise for her. "I did not expect things to be this crazy," he said.
When asked if Israelis can expect to see Ashram in 2014 Games in Paris, the gymnast remained coy.
"First I want to enjoy the moment and the hard work I have given in the last five years. Let the body rest and we will see from there, we will see where it will progress and where it will lead me. "