AARHUS, Denmark, Oct 17 - China made a stirring comeback from a dreadful
start to snatch the men's team gold medal at the world gymnastics championships
Gymnasts from China
celebrate their gold medals win on the podium following the men's team
final at the 39th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Aarhus,
Denmark, October 17, 2006. Team China won the gold medal on Tuesday
followed by Russian silver and Japan's bronze.
Error-filled displays left China trailing in seventh place after the first
two rotations before they defiantly hauled themselves up the standings to clinch
the title with a total of 277.775.
It was their fifth triumph from their last six appearances and made up for
their 2004 Athens Games flop.
A dramatic fall by Zou Kai from the horizontal bar on their final performance
did not stop China from eclipsing second-placed Russia by 2.375 points, while
Olympic champions Japan settled for bronze.
China had come to Aarhus to prove a point in the run up to hosting the 2008
Olympics in Beijing.
With mission accomplished, in typical understated manner they turned to their
flag-waving fans in the stands and acknowledged the cheers.
"We are very happy to win the world championships because we want to repeat
this performance in 2008," Yang Wei told reporters.
"We had some problems with our performances today but we did better and
better and won at the end."
Japan had been expected push China all the way after finishing second in
qualifying but endured a miserable evening to end up with a combined score of
The fact that the two Asian nations ended up with a medal was a remarkable
achievement considering they were rooted to the bottom of the standings after an
abysmal start on the floor.
Both had ambitious elements in their routines but their failure to execute
these skills cleanly proved costly in the early stages.
Zou had been China's top performer on floor during the preliminaries but was
their weakest link on Tuesday when he fell flat on his face and out of the
marked area following his opening tumble.
He was unable to stop the flow of mistakes when he stepped out again on his
next tumbling sequence.
After picking up 0.6 point deduction, his score of 14.050 appeared to leave
China out of the running.
All-round title contender Yang continued China's patchy run of form when he
slipped off the pommel horse just minutes later to draw 13.600 from the
With the 6-3-3 format -- in which only three of the six gymnasts from each
team compete on any one apparatus and all their scores count towards the team
total -- leaving no room for error, China knew they had little time to get their
But after solid performances on the rings, China showed their class on the
Once China had moved into second place thanks to Liang Fuliang, Chen Yibing
and Yang nailing their soaring somersaults to near perfection, they knew victory
was theirs for the taking and they did not disappoint.
In the end, Chinese gymnasts earned top score in four of the six rounds.
A consistent exhibition on all six apparatus helped Russia to gatecrash what
had been expected to be a duel for the crown between the two Asian superpowers.
Alexander Safoshkin's powerful display on the rings helped the European
champions to their best team result at the worlds since claiming a silver in
Japan's all-round champion Hiroyuki Tomita will be hoping his fortunes
improve in time for the individual final on Thursday after he stumbled off the
floor and drew gasps from the crowd when he crash-landed from the horizontal
Romania, Belarus, Canada, Germany and Switzerland completed the top eight.