Only Cheng disappoints as China continue gold rush

Society Materials 17 August 2008 18:38 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Xiao Qin and Zou Kai both secured gold Sunday as Chinese athletes continued to perform strongly in the gymnastics disciplines with only Cheng Fei failing to live up to expectations.

Xiao overcame the challenge of Croatia's Filip Ude to add the Olympic title in the men's pommel horse to his three world championship crowns while Zou took gold for the host nation in the men's floor.

China's biggest disappointment came in the women's vault, which was won by North Korea's Hong Un Jong after Cheng Fei paid the price for landing on her knees on her second vault.

Cheng also slipped up in the floor exercise event, which was eventually won by Romania's Sandra Izbasa.

There were no such worries for Xiao, who put in a superb routine at the National Indoor Stadium to score 15.875 for gold with Ude taking silver thanks to a score of 15.725.

Great Britain's Louis Smith repeated his feat from last year's world championships in Stuttgart by taking bronze, also with a score of 15.725, but losing under the tiebreak rules.

Xiao saluted on the winner's podium, saying this was something he had planned to do in Athens four years ago but was unable to, owing to his and the Chinese team's poor performances there.

"The longest holiday I have had in the last few years was three days due to training. Now I can finally rest," he said.

Individual all-around champion Yang Wei, who along with Xiao and Zou also won team gold in Beijing, had to be satisfied with fourth after scoring 15.450.

Zou celebrated a clear win in the floor exercise thanks to a score of 16.050 points for his routine with Gervasio Deferr of Spain taking silver with a score of 15.775.

"I finally have a floor Olympic medal, even if it is silver. I would have been more annoyed if it had been bronze," joked the 27- year-old Deferr, who already has vault golds from Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004.

Russia's Anton Golotsutskov claimed bronze after scoring 15.725 while Romania's Marian Dragulescu, Olympic silver medallist in 2004, finished down in seventh place.

Cheng looked to be well on her way to gold when scoring 16.075 on her first vault but a score of 15.050 on her second one left the 20- year-old with an average total of 15.562, good enough only for third place and bronze.

Jung took full advantage of Cheng's error, sealing victory with an average points total of 15.650 thanks to scores of 15.550 and 15.750 for her two vaults.

Germany's Uzbekistan-born Oksana Chusovitina, who won Olympic gold with the United Team in 1992 and at the age of 33 was the oldest gymnast in the eight-woman final, took silver with an average 15.575 thanks to vaults of 1.5725 and 15.425.

"I dedicate this medal to my son Alisher," said Chuovitina, who originally moved to Germany in order that the child could receive treatment for his leukemia.

There was disappointment for Russia's Anna Pavlova who appeared to be well in contention for a medal after an opening vault of 15.625 but she failed to score on her second one, finishing last as a result.

World champion Shawn Johnson was the first to perform her floor exercise routine and set the bar at 15.500, a total that looked like it would be good enough to ensure the 16-year-old of gold.

However, Izbasa snatched victory with the final routine of the evening thanks to a score of 15.650. Individual all-around champion Nastia Liukin of the United States had to settle for bronze after scoring 15.425 for her routine.