China secures first team title in women's gymnastics

Society Materials 13 August 2008 10:18 (UTC +04:00)

China prevailed over reigning world champion the United States Wednesday to win a first ever Olympic gold medal in the women's gymnastics team event, dpa reported.

The six-woman team of Cheng Fei, He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan, Li Shanshan, Yang Yilin and Deng Linlin amassed a winning total of 188.900 points in the four disciplines of uneven bars, balanced beam, floor exercise and vault.

Just as in Athens four years ago, the United States had to settle for silver with a total of 186.525 points while defending Olympic champion Romania beat Russia in the battle for bronze with a score of 181.525.

Shawn Johnson helped the US into an early lead after the first rotation thanks to a score of 16.000 in the vault, which was also achieved by three-time world champion Cheng.

However, superb performances by He and Yang in the uneven bars edged China in front at the end of the second rotation despite American Nastia Liukin scoring highest in the discipline with a 16.900.

He's score of 16.850 in particular was greeted with relief by the home crowd as she fell in the uneven bars in qualifying Saturday, although the 16-year-old scored lowest for China in the subsequent balanced beam.

The US scored better than the host nation in that discipline despite Alicia Sacramone's fall, but when Liukin put a foot outside the area in the floor exercise on the final rotation, the American team knew its dream of winning gold was over.

Deng and Yang put in solid routines for China before Cheng brought victory and the house down with a routine that scored 15.450.