Host City: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Venue(s): Rio Olympic Arena, Barra Olympic Park, Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro
Date Started: August 19, 2016
Date Finished: August 20, 2016
Russian gymnasts were clear favourites to win the individual title, having won the last four Olympic individual titles, and the star of their squad was unquestionably the 18-year-old [Yana Kudryavtseva], who had won the last three all-round world titles and one of only four gymnasts to win the title three years in succession. When she won in 2013, she was the youngest ever rhythmic gymnastics world champion. With two-time Olympic gold medallist [Yevgeniya Kanayeva] now retired, the way was open for Kudryavtseva to add to her successes, but not without stiff opposition from her team-mate [Margarita Mamun], who was the 2014 and 2015 World Championship runner-up.
Any chance to spoil the Russian domination came from Ukraine, Bulgaria and Belarus, who had the impressive pair of [Melitina Stanyuta] and [Katsiaryna Halkina] in their squad. [Son Yeon-Jae] was hoping to become the first Korean to win a rhythmic medal. Fifth in London in 2012 and ranked number five in the world going into the Rio Games, Son is a celebrity in her home-country having appeared in TV drama shows.
In one of the few sports in which the United States has never won a medal, there remained optimism that would be overturned in Rio in the shape of 16-year-old high school student [Laura Zeng], who earned her trip after winning her second straight national title shortly before the Games. She had impressively won all five disciplines at the 2015 Pan American Games and in May 2016 became the first American to win a medal at a World Cup event, winning the hoop and ribbon at the Minsk event.
To prove that age is no barrier in a sport dominated by younger women, Spainâs [Carolina RodrÃguez] was 30 when the 2016 Games started. An Olympian with the Spanish group in 2004 and 2012, she nearly gave up the sport but decided to concentrate on the individual event and qualified for Rio via the 2015 World Championships after finishing ninth in the all-round competition.
Sadly for Laura Zeng she didnât make it beyond the qualifying competition, by a mere 0.141 of a point in 11th place. Nevertheless, it was the highest ever placing by an American since rhythmic gymnastics was introduced at the 1984 Games. As expected, the list of qualifiers was headed by the Russians with Mamun ranking one in hoop, ball and ribbon for a combined score of 74.383 while Kudryavtseva ranked first with the clubs and was second with 73.998. The biggest challenge to the Russians came from Ukranian [Hanna Rizatdinova] who ranked second in clubs, hoop and ribbon, and third with the ball and was just 0.066 of a point behind in third place.
In the final, Margarita Mamun outscored Kudryavtseva to win the fifth consecutive gold medal for Russia, and for the third time after 2004 and 2012 they have won both gold and silver. This is one of three events at which Russia has won five consecutive gold medals, after the duets and team synchronised swimming. Mamum posted the top score on the clubs, and second best on hoop, ribbon and ball and when Kudryavtseva failed to catch one of her clubs it opened the door for Mamun who eventually won 76.483 to 75.608 with Rizatdinova on 73,582 points in third place.