BEIJING, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Sandra Izbaza claimed the Olympic title in women's floor exercise on Sunday, the first gold won by the Romanian gymnastic team in the Beijing Olympics.
It was the first time for Izbaza to stand atop the Olympic podium. 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 among eight contenders. That placed Izbaza in an advantageous position.
Shawn Johnson from the United States defeated her teammate Nastia Liukin and bagged the silver. The bronze went to Liukin who scored 15.425 points, with a gap of 0.075 point with Johnson.
"The all-around was the greatest feeling and making floor finals was very exciting. I have two finals left and I am excited for those too," said Liukin.
Johnson told reporters after the competition, "I have really enjoyed today's competition. I stayed calm and had a great time out there. I released the pressure and stress of this competition during the individual all-around and just went out there."
On China's Cheng Fei, Johnson said, "I am really sorry about her. To make it here and make a mistake is hard, but she did a great job. In my eyes, she is still one of the most respected gymnasts out there."
Cheng Fei made fatal mistakes both in vault and floor exercise finals on Sunday. After kneeing down in her second jump in vault, she leaned backward in a series of somersaults and had to support her body with a hand in the floor exercise. Cheng got a bronze in vault and ranked only the seventh in floor exercise.
"It is probably my last time to take part in an Olympics," said Cheng in the mixed zone. On her mistake on floor, Cheng added, "During the break between vault and floor, I adjusted my emotions and I was peaceful. I only wanted to treat the competition as a performance. I didn't realize such difficulties would occur."
The leading Chinese gymnast burst into tears after the competition, but spectators still gave her thundering hail and applause.
Cheng's teammate Jiang Yuyuan ended up the fourth with more stable performance than in the women's all-around final on Friday.
The women's all-around title went to Liukin on Friday after her flawless exercises on each of the four apparatus with a good combination of difficulty and quality, leaving a margin of 0.600 with the silver medalist Johnson.