China reeling a er ‘precious’ team gymnastics crown loss
ZHANG Chenglong insisted China are not a spent force after Kohei Uchimura’s Japan ended their eight-year Olympic men’s team reign in Rio.
The Chinese finished with bronze less than a year after also losing the world title they had won six consecutive times, and all but once since 1994, to Japan.
Uchimura, 27, helped Japan to their first team gold since 2004 in the Rio Olympic Arena ahead of Russia, who were back on the podium for the first time since 2000.
There was despair on the Chinese team with Zhang admitting the importance of the title to the Asian giant.
“In China teamwork is very important,” said Zhang.
“Team gold represents the summit of Chinese gymnastics. It’s not down to one person to be excellent, but everyone has to be excellent.”
China paid for errors starting with a shaky start for Lin Chaopan, 20, and Deng Shudi, 24, on the floor as they competed alongside the United States. You Hao also struggled on his rings dismount.
The Chinese impressed on the parallel bars with You hitting 16.166, but they needed a strong final rotation on the high bar to keep in the title chase.
Deng, Lin and Zhang failed to produce the necessary fireworks, finishing nearly three points behind Japan.
It was also the end of the road for Zhang, a gold medal winner in the team event from London, and seventime world medallist over four world championships.
The 27-year-old has failed to reach the finals of the all-around and apparatus events.
Deng and Lin qualified for today’s all-around final, in fourth and 10th position.
In the apparatus events Chinese hopes lie with Liu Yang and You on rings, with Hao and Deng medal prospects on parallel bars.
China took the men’s team gold for the first time in Syndey 2000, only to lose to Japan in Athens four years later. They recaptured it at their home Games in Beijing 2008 and successfully defended it in London.
They will now look to beat Japan on their home Games in Tokyo 2020.
China’s Deng Shudi competes in the rings event of the men’s gymnastics team final during the Rio Olympics on August 8. China’s team earned bronze, while Japan won gold and Russia took silver.