ATHENS, Ga. (AP) _ She bristles at the suggestion her sport isn't really a sport, that it doesn't have any place in the Olympics.

As far as Ukraine's Yekaterina Serebryanskaya is concerned, rhythmic gymnastics belongs just as much as track and field.

``We came to compete and represent our country as well as we can,'' said Serebryanskaya, who won the gold medal Sunday in the individual all-around. ``In Europe, everyone receives us well because rhythmic gymnastics is very popular.''

Americans are more accustomed to the traditional form, artistic gymnastics, where athletes do aerial moves and handsprings. Rhythmic gymnastics is based more on dance, and athletes perform a series of floor exercises with a ball, a rope, a ribbon and clubs.

While the sport is very popular in Europe, it's taken awhile to catch on in the United States. All six sessions at the University of Georgia Coliseum were sold out, but only about 70 percent of the 10,500 seats were filled for Sunday's finals.

Judging from the crowd Sunday, it's slowly catching on. The only American in the individual competition, Jessica Davis, didn't make it past the qualifying round, but there were still loud cheers for the other gymnasts.

Serebryanskaya's 9.95s on her first three routines _ the highest scores of the games _ were good enough to protect her gold medal from a dropped ribbon on her final routine.

Ianina Batyrchina of Russia won the silver and Elena Vitrichenko of Ukraine took the bronze. Amina Zaripova of Russia was fourth and Bulgaria's Maria Petrova, who shares the world champion title with Serebryanskaya, finished fifth.

Serebryanskaya blamed her mistake on the air conditioning, saying it was turned up so high the ribbon blew away from her.

Her 9.833 _ which included a fourth perfect 5 for composition _ was high enough to secure the gold medal, even with Petrova and Vitrichenko still left to compete. Batyrchina, who started the rotation in second, had already finished and was trying to hold onto silver after botching her own ribbon routine.

Despite having one of the best routines of the competition, Vitrichenko was awarded a 9.816 _ and the bronze medal. As the crowd booed, she stared at the scoreboard in disbelief.

``I don't want to talk about the judges, it's in the past,'' Vitrichenko said. ``I'm glad I got a bronze medal. In rhythmic gymnastics, a bronze medal is as hard to get as a gold medal.''

Serebryanskaya made no apologies for her medal. After four years of hard work, she's earned it.

``I think I deserve it if I got it,'' she said. ``For the last four years, we haven't seen daylight. I'd like to find an uninhabited island and hide there.''