Gymnast hopes tearful gold will mean funds

Alexandra Kiroi-Bogatyreva hopes her emotional Commonwealth Games gold medal will trigger conversation around the lack of funding for rhythmic gymnastics and inspire the next generation.

The Australian burst into tears when she won Saturday’s clubs final at Arena Birmingham, the breakthrough coming after bronze in the individual all-around final and team silver on day one of a relentless three-day program.

Fifth in the ball and ribbon finals completed her campaign, the 20-year-old now a five-time Games medalist after claiming team and ball bronze on the Gold Coast.

“The emotions just came out and they’re still coming out and every time I see this medal I’m probably going to cry,” Kiroi-Bogatyreva said of a tearful climax to three days of intense focus.

“Today was psychologically difficult; I just had to remind myself that I’m here because I want to be, have fun… and I came away with the gold.”

The 20-year-old lamented a “whole load of mistakes” on her way to bronze in the individual all-around final.

But she nailed her routine on Saturday, bursting into tears when her 29.4 score was announced, enough to narrowly beat Canada’s Carmel Kallemaa (29.1).

She’ll now set her sights on the world championships in a month, another opportunity she says is only possible because of her parents.

“There’s so much sacrifice, training eight-to-10 hours a day,” she said.

“Unfortunately it’s 99 percent self-funded; all my world cups, world championships, my leotards (which cost around) $2000 for one.

“Everything is paid for by my parents; lots of sacrifices have to be made to get medals like the gold but in the long run it’s definitely worth it.”

Kiroi-Bogatyreva hoped the glint from her full set of medals might catch the eye of new interest.

“It’s (the financial burden) always an issue and we always bring it up but maybe after a gold medal more attention will be brought to rhythmic, hopefully more funding, more little gymnasts will be inspired,” she said.

“I just hope all the little girls will want to do rhythmic gymnastics.”

Earlier Brisbane teen Lidiia Iakovleva came sixth in the hoop final, improving by one ranking on her qualification position with a score of 26.00.

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