|Gymnast Zhang Nan of China performs her routine
on the beam during the women's team final at the 39th Artistic
Gymnastics World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark. China won the
title ahead of the US and Russia. [AFP]|
China claimed their second gold medal of the world gymnastics championships when they
won their first women's world team title.
Defending champions the United States, led by world champion Chellsie
Memmel, had to settle for silver with Russia claiming bronze after the
The Chinese, bronze medallists at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, pulled
ahead after their third rotation of four, the
beam, when Zhang Nan and Pang Panpan went 1-2 to carry a
0.850 lead into the final round on floor where Cheng Fei gave the top
performance of the night in that discipline.
Cheng, 18, admitted that the fact they had not been favourites had
"Before the championship there was a gap between us (and the US)," said
Cheng. "This was a good thing as it allowed us to practice without any
"With little pressure we were able to give a good performance and pull
out all our best techniques."
The Chinese scored 182.200 points after the four apparatus with the
United States finishing on 181.350 and Russia on 177.325.
Olympic champions Romania finished fourth with 175.450.
The Americans, who won the title for the first time at home in Anaheim
in 2003, had looked dominant in qualifiers but they struggled from the
outset in the finals as they competed in the same group as the Chinese.
China were in third after the vault behind Romania and the US with
Cheng, Zhou Zhuoru, Zhang Nan stepping forward on their landings.
But they began to make up ground when world silver medallist on uneven
bars Memmel fell on her face and Bieger also made errors during that
Liukin pulled the US into the lead in the uneven bars with less than a
point separating the Americans, Chinese and third-placed Romania.
And the Chinese surged ahead after Zhang, 20, and Pang, 18, went 1-2 on
the beam when Memmel slipped, with China taking a 0.875-point lead into
the final round on floor.
There their only error was a minor one by Zhang on a dance element.
Taking to the floor last the Americans could not afford to
slip-up only for Bieger to
step out of limits.
Cheng took top marks of the floor (15.650) ahead of Memmel and Pang and
it was enough to seal victory.
The competition continues Thursday with the men's and women's
all-around finals where Japan's Hiroyuki Tomita and Memmel will be
defending their respective titles.