China's Xiao Qin competes on the vaultfor the men's qualifiers in Aarhus, Denmark, Oct. 14, 2006 at the 39thArtisitic Gymnastics World Championships. (Xinhua Photo)
Photo Gallery >>>AARHUS, Denmark, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- Chinese gymnasts found the way back to reach the team title after three disappointing years, finishing first at qualifiers Saturday in Aarhus Gymnastic World Championships.
China, the 2003 Anaheim worlds Champions, collected a total of 370.450 points to lead the qualification ranking, 2.700 marks ahead of 2004 Athens Olympic Champions Japan, while the rebuilding Russia were third after the first-day qualifiers.
Chinese gymnasts, led by 2000 Sydney Olympic team gold medallist Yang Wei and world champion Xiao Qin (pommel horse), produced a stable and consistent artistic actions on six apparatus.
Chen Yibing and debutant Zou Kai announced their talent to atop rings and floor exercise after first-day's qualification. Chen Yibing, 22, scored 16.525 points to overshadow Russian established veteran Alexander Safoshkin, the silver medallist at 2005 Melbourne worlds, who was second, and the defending champion Yuri Van Gelder of the Netherlands had to settled with the fourth. Newcomer Zou Kai claimed the first place in floor exercise with 15.750 to challenge the world champion Diego Hypolito, who will come up to qualify on Sunday.
Xiao Qin continued his dominance in pommel horse by scoring 16.175 and is the best hope to defend his specialty.
In overall individual, Chinese gymnasts were also the biggest winners in spite of losing the top place to Hiroyuki Tomita, the world champion at 2005 Melbourne worlds, by taking the second, third and fourth positions.
Yang Wei ranked second by trailing 0.925 points caused mainly by his misplay in high bar. Tomita led Yang by 1.400 points in the discipline taking the advantage of Yang's fall from the bar.
"Chinese gymnasts get better precision and better stability, especially for the young gymnasts. It's not easy for Zou who come to the worlds for the first time to show in this way. That's just what we need as a team and that's what a team needs to win the title," said Huang Yubin, head coach of China.
Japan were hampered by the vault and pommel horse, 2.250 points and 2.725 points behind China respectively, to finish in second.
The results of the qualifiers echoed predictions given by Hardy Fink, former President of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) men's technical committee and currently director of education and academy Program of the FIG. He gave his credit to China and Japan after witnessing the podium training.
"It looks clear that China and Japan are in a different league. Both teams showed high precision and high consistency, which one normally does not expect on podium training, but they have nevertheless demonstrated it," Fink said before the championships started.
"While many gymnasts struggled with some difficult elements, China (especially on parallel bars and pommel horse) and Japan performed fluently without any visible effort."
U.S., with a brand new, very young team, finished sixth behind Russia, Belarus and South Korea.
The qualifiers from subdivision seven to nine will be carried out on Sunday, who will mainly compete for the opportunity of top 24 to advance to Stuttgart 2007 worlds. Enditem
China's Chen Yibing competes on therings for the men's qualifiers in Aarhus, Denmark, Oct. 14, 2006 at the39th Artisitic Gymnastics World Championships. (Xinhua Photo)
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