Japan keen to pass China

Updated: 2011-10-03 07:38

By Tang Zhe (China Daily)

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Japan keen to pass China

China's Chen Yibing competes on the rings in the men's final at the 42nd Artistic Gymnastics World Championships on Oct 23, 2010, in Rotterdam. Chen will lead the team at the Tokyo World Championships that start on Oct 7. [Photo/Agencies]

Chinese gymnastics team will face a strong challenge from the host at the World Championships, Tang Zhe reports

The Japan men's gymnastic team is always looking for a chance to defeat its Chinese counterparts. Japan narrowly lost to China in the men's team all-round event at the Rotterdam World Championships last year, and that was followed by another second-place finish at the Guangzhou Asian Games a month later. The team also still carries scars from its bitter defeat at the Beijing Olympic Games, where it finished second to the host nation.

Now it has a good chance to fight back at home, where the 2011 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships will be held from Oct 7-16 in Tokyo.

"Japan has been our main rival for a long time, and they will of course want to take away the team gold at home this time," said Huang Yubin, head coach of the Chinese gymnastics team. "But we don't care about this, because we have defeated them at the World Championships and Asian Games, and we are well prepared for this tournament."

The Chinese men's gymnastics team won four gold medals and two silver at last year's World Championships. However, it was not until the last round in the men's team event that the Chinese gained the upper hand in the horizontal bar to defeat Japan by a point.

Japan keen to pass China

Chen Yibing, captain of the men's team, said the competition with Japan will be much fiercer this time.

"The matches will undoubtedly be more difficult for us, because the abilities of China and Japan are very close, and Japan has the home advantage this time," said Chen, who has dominated the men's ring events in recent years. "I don't think we will know who will win the event until the last gymnast lands on the floor.

"Everyone has trained pretty hard these past few months, and we are in good form," Chen said. "We are also more confident because last year's worlds marked the debut of many of my teammates at a World Championships, and we didn't have much time to train together. But this year we have had more time to understand each other better and are fully prepared for the tournament."

Coach Huang said now was not the time to count medals, but to make use of every opportunity to properly prepare for the London Olympics.

"Winning gold medals is not our priority (at the Tokyo World Championships)," he said. "The most important thing is to give our athletes more chances to practice to prepare for the 2012 Olympic Games, and we also want to prove ourselves at Japan's home arena.

"If we have the ability to get good results in London then that will be the time for us to care about how many gold medals we win," he said.

On the women's side, the Chinese team, winner of world titles in 2006 and 2007 and the Beijing Olympic gold medalist, took home two silver and one bronze at the 2010 World Championships, and finished third in the team event due to a series of mistakes.

The squad heads to Tokyo also experiencing a huge turnover of performers with half of the lineup making their international debuts. With former national team captain Cheng Fei absent through injury, veteran Jiang Yuyuan and He Kexin will play leading roles on the team.

Japan keen to pass China