sharing the Olympic spirit
OLYMPICS/ self introduction

China closes strong at gymnastics worlds
Updated: 2007-09-04 11:45


STUTTGART, Germany - It's not often gymnasts get curtain calls in qualifying at the world gymnastics championships. It's not often gymnasts blow away the competition like China did.

After looking decidedly mediocre -- well, as mediocre as the defending world champions can get -- for much of the night Monday, the Chinese let everybody know they quite like their gold medals and intend to leave with another set.

Yang Wei of China competes on the parallel bars during the all-around team competition at the 40th World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart September 3, 2007. [Reuters]

"A great finish," defending world champion Yang Wei said. "It's something we can enjoy."

The rest of the competition sure won't.

China finished with 374.275 points, largely thanks to a finale on the still rings that immediately should be packaged as an instructional DVD. That put the Chinese a whopping 3.550 points ahead of the closest thing it has to competition, Olympic champion Japan. They have 12.1 points on injury-plagued Russia, a gap so big the defending silver medalists would need to throw in an extra routine to catch up.

Yang edged Hiroyuki Tomita for the highest individual score, a repeat of last year's all-around final. And China had the highest scores on floor, still rings, parallel bars and pommel horse.

"Most important for us is that we clinched the top places in the individual categories," coach Huang Yubin said. "But it's only qualifying. Some tough competition is waiting for us at the moment."

The Americans go Tuesday. They have no designs on catching China, only trying to get there next year for the Olympics. To do that, they must move up at least one spot from last year's 13th-place finish.

If there's any consolation for Japan and any other medal contenders, it's that scores start over in Thursday's final. But there's some bad news to go along with that, too.

China wasn't at its best Monday. Not even close.

"In general, I think the Chinese team did a good job today. But on some individual apparatus, we still made some mistakes," Huang said. "Some mistakes are acceptable for the world championships."

The Chinese have won six of the last seven world titles, and the squad they brought here is like a gymnastics Dream Team. Half of the six have won at least one individual world title. The "slackers" are Huang Xu, who was the silver medalist on parallel bars in 2003, and Liang Fuliang, the 2005 bronze medalist on floor.

Then there's 19-year-old Zou Kai. The baby of the team, he can tumble with the best of them, posting the highest score of the day on floor.

   Previous   1   2   Next  
Comments of the article(total ) Print This Article E-mail