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.