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Roundup: Chinese gymnasts surpass best result by reaping two more golds
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09:08, August 18, 2008

Host China broke its previous gymnastic record set at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 by reaping two more golds on Sunday in Beijing and raising the total titles to five.

China's Xiao Qin and Zou Kai contributed to the feat by winning golds in men's pommel horse and floor exercise. China claimed four gymnastic golds in 1984.

The titles for men's team, women's team and men's all-around events all went to the hosts before the duels.

Both of the champions repeated China's glory in the two events. Zou followed Li Ning and Li Xiaoshuang to become the third Chinese man winning an Olympic gold in floor exercise. Xiao became the third Chinese to claim an Olympic title in pommel horse.

The difference between Zou and Xiao was the former's gold came as a good surprise while the latter occurred as expected.

The 20-year-old Zou, who was making his Olympic debut, won the gold medal at 16.050 points, after reigning world champion Diego Hypolito of Brazil and Olympic silver medalist Marian Dragulescu failed their routines.

Gervasio Deferr from Spain took the silver in 15.775 points, and the bronze went to Russia's Anton Golotsutskov, in 15.725 points.

"I do not think I am the dark horse," said Zou, adding that he believed he is strong enough to have the gold and he is in good form in the competition.

Xiao, reigning world champion who entered the final in first place, took the gold medal in 15.875 points.

Pilip Ude of Croatia took the silver in 15.725 points and Louis Smith of Britain won the bronze with the same score of 15.725 points under a tiebreak rule.

"I intended to do this (winning the gold) in the Athens Olympics but I didn't have the chance. Today I was able to do it," said 23-year-old Xiao.

The victory was somewhat like a revenge for Xiao, as he fell during qualifications and failed to make the final in the 2004 Athens Olympics. His flaw on his specialty also pulled the Chinese men's team down in the team title contest.

In the women's events, Romania and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) embraced their first gymnastic gold at the Beijing Olympics.

Sandra Izbaza from Romaina claimed the Olympic title in women's floor exercise on Sunday. That continued the winning legend of Romanian women gymnast Catalina Ponor in the event four years ago at the Athens Olympics.

As the last one to compete, Izbaza did not show any sign of nervousness. With lofty tumbling and solid landing, the 18-year-old girl secured her leading stance by gaining 15.650 points. The difficulty of her routine was 6.5, the highest one among the eight contenders. That placed Izbaza in an advantageous position.

Shawn Johnson from the United States defeated her teammate Nastia Liukin and bagged the silver by scoring 15.500. The bronze went to Liukin, leaving a gap of 0.075 point with Johnson.

China's Jiang Yuyuan ended up the fourth with more stable performance than in the women's all-around final on Friday. Her compatriot Cheng Fei,however, leaned backward in a series of somersaults and had to support her body with a hand. She got only 14.550 points in the final and ranked the seventh.

Cheng only finished her first day of individual finals with only a bronze in vault.

As three-time world vault champion, Cheng led the field with a pair of extremely difficult vaults, one her namesake -- "Cheng Fei". The difficulty zenith, however, was shared by Cheng and the DPRK's Hong Unjong, leaving Cheng no advantage in the competition.

Hong's stable performance endowed her the gold while Cheng faltered in landing at the end of her second routine.

Cheng finally accumulated 15.562 points, following Germany veteran Oksana Chusovitina who won the silver.

"The movement of my first vault was quite good. There was a mistake on the last half of the 'The Cheng Fei' jump, which is my second vault. I needed to adjust some of the techniques. I also had this problem last year, but I had a good feeling in the final. The feeling just suddenly came to me and I was able to complete it. I did not complete it this year because I failed to adjust it," said Cheng.

Another dramatic scene was Anna Pavlova, a favorite from Russia, made a mistake in her second jump and only gained a total of 7.812 points at last.

Despite the failure, the medal winners showed respect for Cheng after the finals. "I felt sorry for her. To make it after a mistake is hard, but she did a great job. No matter what, she is one of the most respected gymnasts out there. I hope she gets back out there and keeps going," said Johnson from the United States.

Romania's Izbasa echoed Johnson's view by saying, "I know Cheng Fei is a great gymnast. She has trained very hard. Mistakes in competition are very normal. I feel so sorry for her tonight. I really was hoping we could go to the podium together."


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2 USA 19 21 25 65
3 Great Britain 11 6 8 25
4 Germany 9 6 6 21
5 Australia 8 10 11 29
6 South Korea 8 9 5 22
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