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Fans of Olympic gymnastics are seeing double.
A pair of Russian twins dominated the women’s rhythmic gymnastics qualifications in Tokyo Friday, taking first and second place and finishing with scores nearly as identical as they are.
Dina and Arina Averina, 22, are gold medal favorites heading into Saturday’s all-around finals after collectively scoring 106.300 and 106.175 respectively in the sport’s four events.
The pair, representing the Russian Olympic Committee, blew away Team Israel’s Linoy Ashram, who finished third with a score of 103.100 after losing control of her hoop near the end of her routine.
“I’m happy that I performed today, but, unfortunately, there were mistakes, and there are things to work on,” Dina said following her first place win, according to Olympics.com.
“Tomorrow, I’m going to improve the details.”
The twins, born about 300 miles east of Moscow in Zavolzhye, a small town along the Volga River, have long claimed to not be in competition with one another and even though they’re both in the running for the gold, they claimed they’re just happy to see the other win.
“We never compete, but we always support each other,” said Dina, the three-time reigning world champion.
“So if she wins, I’m happy for her. If I win, she’s happy for me.”
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Arina told the Olympic Channel earlier this year silver is “good for me” and she doesn’t “consider it a failure.”
“Why? Every medal is a medal, a merit. Any labor should still be rewarded. Most hurtful is the fourth place,” the gymnast explained.
“First, second, third — you did well. At least you are on a podium, you earned this medal with your work, blood and tears. And it doesn’t matter whether it is gold, silver or bronze.”
While Arina has frequently come in second behind her sister, Dina said she envies her twin’s placid demeanor and her ability to roll with the many punches that come with being an Olympian.
“I like this small kind of indifference from Arisha — when everything is bad, or if you are being scolded — you do not have to take it close to heart,” Dina said.
“Do not be so upset, life does not end with this — it is necessary to listen carefully, to analyze it and to go work further. Nothing horrible happened. Probably, that’s what I’m missing because I need everything and at once.”
Arina wishes she had her sister’s resilience.
“I want to learn it. When you think that everything is bad and already lost, it’s necessary to find strength in yourself and prove first of all to yourself that everything is not lost and that you can,” said Arina, who won gold in the 2021 European all-around championship but has been hampered by a string of injuries.
“The main thing [is] to fight to the end.”
The twins have been training since they were just four years old and both shared the same ambition of competing in the 2020 Tokyo Games.
They’re still a day away from the finals, but the twins already have their sights set on Paris 2024.
“If our health will allow then why not,” Dina said.
“God helps us to the reach the Olympics and then let’s see,” Ariana added.
“Then we will act depending on the situation.”
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