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Host China makes breakthrough with first Olympic rhythmic gymnastics medal
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15:05, August 24, 2008

As rhythmic gymnastics powerhouse Russia claimed its third consecutive Olympic rhythmic group tittle, host China also celebrated its breakthrough in the sport after its quintet snatched a surprise silver medal, the country's first Olympic rhythmic medal on Sunday.

Russia, after its ace gymnast Evgeniya Kanaeva won the individual gold a day ago, added to Russia's medal tally with the rhythmic gymnastics team title with a total of 35.550 points.

China won the silver 35.225 points, followed by Belarus, in 34.900.

In a largely flawless competition, the Russians underlined their superiority with high difficulty and quality execution.

But the biggest winner might be the Chinese, who were 6th-placer in Athens and had been seeking a breakthrough in the sport on home turf, hopefully in group event.

The Chinese girls, believed to be the best rhythmic team in Asia, have been making steady progress in recent years. A rhythmic group bronze medal was the country's goal for the Games.

However, in the group final, the Chinese quintet did bring surprise to the cheering home fans when they staged charming routines with strong Chinese characteristics, accompanied by Peking Opera music.

"The silver medal is unexpected. We are so happy that we made the breakthrough for Chinese rhythmic gymnastics. It's the most glorious moment for Chinese rhythmic gymnastics," said Zhang Shuo of China.

"It's not easy because we have come a long way to be here. We will make efforts for better results in the future," she said.

"We cried a lot today because it's not easy for us to get the silver. Most of us have injuries and we just held on. We hope today's win will bring more Chinese girls to the sport," said Zhang's teammate Sun Dan.

Sun said she and her teammates did not set the goal for a medal.

"We just wanted to do our best. We were not the pre-game favourite and so we placed ourselves in a lower position. We were fighting for better results, not the medal," she said.

The Chinese girls also said their improved artistry helped them a lot.

"Our strong point is the difficulty of our routines, and the weak point is artistry. We trained a lot in the past two months to improve artistry and the efforts paid off," said Zhang Shuo.

The Russians were also overwhelmed by their impressive victory.

Elena Posevina of Russia said: "We are overwhelmed with emotion. It took a lot of training and it's been a long road. We are yet to fully comprehend this victory."

She said the competition is generally improving. "On the one hand our group is developing and on the other hand more and more countries are joining the Olympic movement, so the competition is improving."

Italy, the silver medallist four years ago, was fourth. "I really, really feel upset. We did not live up to our expectations," said Italian Elisa Santoni.

Each group, consisting of five gymnasts, performed two routines, the first with five ropes and the second with three hoops and two clubs.

The top eight groups from qualifications competed in the final on Sunday.


Comments Related News
1 China 50 20 28 98
2 USA 34 37 36 107
3 Russia 22 21 27 70
4 Great Britain 19 13 15 47
5 Germany 16 10 15 41
6 Australia 14 15 17 46
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