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Madrid magic as China gold rush continues
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13:31, December 15, 2008

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China's gymnasts are raking in the gold again.

He Kexin, Cheng Fei and Zhang Hongtao won titles at the World Cup Final, giving the Chinese gold medals in three of the five events contested in Madrid on Saturday. They might have added another, had they sent someone for the men's floor exercise.

He added a World Cup title to the Olympic gold she won on uneven bars, while Cheng won her second straight crown on vault. Zhang, who wasn't part of China's men's team at the Beijing Olympics, won the pommel horse.

Zhang Hongtao of China in action en route to winning gold in the pommel horse.(Photo: Shanghai Daily)

Diego Hypolito of Brazil rebounded from his devastating finish in Beijing to win the men's floor title, and Ukraine's Oleksandr Vorobiov upgraded the bronze he won on still rings at the Olympics to a gold.

The U.S., winner of 10 medals in Beijing, did not send anyone to Madird.

Five more titles of women's floor, balance beam, men's vault, high bar and parallel bars were to be awarded yesterday.

China dominated the Beijing Olympics, winning the men's and women's team golds, the men's all-round and six of the 10 event titles. The Chinese finished with a total of 14 medals.

He, at the center of an age controversy, wasn't at her best in Madrid. She nearly fell after missing a handstand on the low bar, and took a step forward on her dismount. But she does one of the toughest routines in the world - her difficulty mark was more than a half-point ahead of anyone else - and that was enough to give her the gold. She finished with 16.250 while teammate Jiang Yuyuan was second with 15.7.

China could have made it three in a row, but Olympic bronze medalist Yang Yilin withdrew. Japan's Koko Tsurumi was third.

Cheng, a three-time world champion on vault, easily won her signature event. Though she had a slight hop forward on the landing of one of her vaults, the second was practically perfect and she finished with a 15.05. Switzerland's Ariella Kaeslin was second (14.912) and Aagje Vanwalleghem of Belgium (14.425) third, giving each country its first World Cup Final medal.

None of China's male gold medalists was in Madrid, but Zhang did a pretty good imitation.

He beat Krisztian Berki, the silver medalist on pommel horse at the 2007 world championships, as well as Olympic bronze medalist Louis Smith. Berki was second and Australia's Prashanth Sellathurai was third, while Smith dropped to fourth after struggling early in his routine.

Hypolito, the reigning world champion on floor, was distraught after falling on the landing of his final tumbling pass in Beijing, fighting tears as he sat in a chair. Not only had he cost himself the gold medal, he left without any Olympic medal. But all of that was forgotten on Saturday.

Hypolito landed that last pass perfectly and the rest of his routine was equally impressive, earning him a 16.125. That put him comfortably in front of Olympic all-round silver medalist Kohei Uchimura of Japan (15.9) and Israel's Alexander Shatilov (15.5).

Still rings was expected to be the highlight of the day, featuring Vorobiov, Athens Olympic champion Dimostenis Tampakos and two world champions, Jordan Jovtchev and Yuri van Gelder. It didn't disappoint, with the gymnasts putting on one muscle-busting routine after another.

Vorobiov had the highest difficulty of the group, and that gave him the edge over Jovtchev. Van Gelder finished third.

Source: Shanghai Daily/Agencies

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