China takes a tum­ble in gym­nas­tics


An “empty brain” con­trib­uted to China leav­ing Rio with­out any gym­nas­tics gold medals— the na­tion’s worst show­ing since re­turn­ing to the Games in 1984.

Three com­peti­tors missed out on podium places on Tues­day.

Usu­ally a ma­jor player in the sport, China claimed only two gym­nas­tics medals in Rio — bronze for its men’s and women’s teams.

It was a long fall from the 2008 Bei­jing Games, when the host coun­try dom­i­nated the sport and claimed both the men’s and women’s team ti­tles.

Deng Shudi, who fin­ished fourth in the par­al­lel bars fi­nal on Tues­day, said the pres­sure was high go­ing into the com­pe­ti­tion.

“I didn’t get to sleep un­til 2 or 3 am ... I just couldn’t fall asleep,” he said. “I just don’t know what hap­pened. My brain is empty.”

Things got worse. Im­me­di­ately af­ter Deng fin­ished his rou­tine, You Hao ended China’s com­pe­ti­tion in the men’s events by com­plet­ing his par­al­lel bars dis­mount with a fall and fin­ish­ing last.

China’s sports sys­tem had been enor­mously suc­cess­ful since the coun­try re­turned to the Olympic fold in 1984, cul­mi­nat­ing with top spot on the medals ta­ble at the Bei­jing Games. There was only a slight dip to sec­ond place be­hind the US in Lon­don four years later.

Ja­pan ended China’s eightyear reign as men’s team cham­pion last week even af­ter China had come out of qual­i­fy­ing on top.

China’s squad, com­pris­ing Deng, You, Lin Chaopan, Zhang Chen­g­long and Liu Yang, sat de­ject­edly af­ter Rus­sia took sil­ver, with Zhang break­ing down in tears.

The bronze was the men’s only gym­nas­tics medal in Rio. China won seven out of eight men’s golds in Bei­jing eight years ago.

The women’s com­pe­ti­tion was dom­i­nated by the US, which claimed the team ti­tle, while Amer­i­can Si­mone Biles won a record-equal­ing fourth gold on Tues­day.

China took four gym­nas­tics gold medals in Lon­don in 2012, when its women won gold and sil­ver on the bal­ance beam.

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