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Russia, Belarus lead day one of rhythmic gymnastics qualifications
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08:43, August 22, 2008

Russian pair Olga Kapranova and Evgeniya Kaneva dominated day one of the individual as Beluras led the group rhythmic gymnastics qualification rounds on Thursday.

Two out of four qualification rounds for the individual competition and one of two rounds for the team event were held on Thursday, and the remaining qualification rounds will be held on Friday.

Kapranova, the all-around gold medallist in the 2005 worlds and bronze medallist in the 2007 worlds, collected a total of 36.825 points after the rope and hoop rounds.

Her compatriot Evgeniya Kanaeva, an emerging star who won the European all-around title this year, missed the rope in her first routine but still nailed a second place, with 36.550 points.

Anna Bessonova from Ukraine, the reigning all-around world champion and bronze medallist in Athens 2004, finished third in 36.4.

China's Li Hongyang came in 12th with 33.1 points, after basically satisfactory performance but lower difficulty value compared with the European competitors.

"I do not have a concrete goal for the competition," said Li, who entered the competition with a wild card. "I only hope I can perform my best. "

"I am satisfied with my job today," she said.

Bessonova also said she was happy with her show.

"I think I performed well today and I will perform better in the next round, although I can't be sure of what will happen next," she said.

In group qualification, host China brought surprise when it, taking to floor as the seventh team, overtook first-placed Italy with an impressive five-rope routine which earned 17.3 points.

China maintained its rank till the last performer, Belarus, garnered 17.525 points and overtake it to be the first.

Russia, winner of the group title in the past two Olympic Games and four world championships in a row, finished third in 17.00 points.

"It turned out to be a surprise that we are second after the first rotation. We just kept a good attitude and did what our coach told us to do," said Sun Dan of the Chinese team.

"I think the country needs a breakthrough (win a medal) in the Group event, because the individual competition is not strong for us, " said Sun's teammate Zhang Shuo.

Each rhythmic gymnast performs with rope, hoop, ribbon and clubs, and each group, consisting of five gymnasts, performs two routines, one with five ropes and the second with three hoops and two clubs.

The remaining qualification rotations for the individual and group events will be held on Friday. The top ten individuals and top eight teams will advance to the finals.

Source:Xinhua

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1 China 46 15 22 83
2 USA 28 34 31 93
3 Great Britain 17 11 11 39
4 Russia 16 16 19 51
5 Australia 11 13 14 38
6 Germany 11 8 12 31
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