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Chinese gymnasts enjoy flying start at Olympics
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16:46, August 10, 2008

Chinese gymnastics team started their Olympic journey with a bang on Saturday, leading men's qualification with a collection of 374.675 points after all three sessions.

The hosts, seeking a medal haul to erase the memory of Athens failure, did not only outperform arch-rivals Japanese by a clear edge of 5.125 points but also have gymnasts into the finals of all six apparatus but vault.

China's leading gymnast Yang Wei, the all-round gold medallist for two world championships in a row, entered the final in first place.

Reigning Olympic champion Japan was left a far second in 369.550points with a row of blunders from key competitors including Hiroyuki Tomita on vault.

Russians were third 3.325 points behind Japanese.

Not only veterans like Yang Wei, Li Xiaopeng and Huang Xu, but also upstarts like Xiaoqin, Chen Yibin and Zhou Kai did their share well to send the Chinese team to the top notch.

The Chinese rose to first place after four apparatus, with superb difficulty scores and execution. And in the end, they finished first on four out of six apparatus, namely, pommel horse, rings, vault and parallel bars.

Yang Wei, two-time world championships all-round gold medalist and the leading figure of the team favored to claim an individual all-round title, finished his routines almost perfectly to deafening applauses from home crowd.

But the parallel bars dealt him a little setback when his left arm lost control to let his elbow hit the bar. But he still nailed the first place as individual with 93.875 points.

"Generally speaking, I am satisfied with my job today. But I feel sorry for my mistake on parallel bars," said Yang after the qualifications.

Li Xiaopeng, whose arm was seen bleeding after his parallel routine, said the bleeding came from a wound on the skin. "It's not a serious and won't affect me. My arm is easy to bleed. Whatever, I will fight on," he said.

Li, who scored 78.50 points on his four apparatus, said he did think the qualifications is a good start for the Chinese team. "The team is in high spirit now," he said.

Gao Jian, director of the gymnastics center of the General Administration of Sport, echoed Li, saying he was happy to see the Chinese male gymnasts eventually shake off the habit of having a bad start, like in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens.

"More important, all our gold hopefuls realized their goal of making the final which sets them on the springboard for the gold medals," Gao said.

Tomita, leading figure on the gold-winning Japanese team in Athens and all-around world champion in 2005, ended fourth as individual, with 91.90 points.

He said he was not in form and that his mistakes on rings and vault cost him points.

"My body is very heavy, so many of the maneuvres are hard to complete. Sometimes, I can't do my best, but that happens very rarely," he said. "I must adapt myself for the competition before the final."

Eight out of the 12 teams in the qualifications will advance to the final while the top 24 all-around competitors and the leading eight gymnasts on each apparatus qualify for the finals.

Source: Xinhua

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