Chinese gymnastics sees positive signs as Olympics loom

November 2, 2015

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) China finally reached the top of the podium at the world gymnastics championships, just a little later than anticipated.

The Chinese don't plan to wait as long next year at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The longtime superpower saw its decade-long run as the most dominant team in men's gymnastics end during the world championships when rival Japan and the surprising British hosts edged them in the team final.

Order was restored a bit in the event finals, with You Hao claiming gold on parallel bars and Deng Shudi earning bronze. You was well-aware of the precarious spot his program was in entering the final day of competition.


''If we did not get any gold, we would have gone home empty-handed,'' You said.

You took care of it by delivering a knockout performance, beating Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine with the most difficult routine in the finals. Deng followed with a daring but solidly-executed set that allowed him to share bronze with Oleg Stepko of Azerbaijian.

The men's performances are exactly what Chinese delegation leader Ye Zhennan wanted to see as China begins preparations to defend its Olympic team title at the 2016 Olympics.

''We can win back the gold in Rio if we pay more attention to technical details, to be more precise and more solid in landing,'' Ye said.

China will not trade in difficulty levels for higher execution scores, Ye said.

''We are talking about top-level competitions,'' Ye said. ''Only when we maintain high difficulty levels and high stability in execution can we win.''

Indeed, China strived for some of the most daring and impossible routines on the podium in Glasgow. China's combined scores on difficulty levels were 4.3 points higher than those by Japan, but the team came the third after too many technical deductions on execution.

In the men's individual all-around competition, Deng picked a set of routines more challenging than those by Kohei Uchimura of Japan, who defended his title.

''Uchimura won for the quality of his skills,'' Ye said. ''He's an excellent gymnast in terms of precision and accuracy.''

Now China wants to do just that, but with more difficult skills.

''Our biggest competitor is ourselves,'' team leader Zhang Chenglong said. ''Gymnastics is not a confrontational sport but one in which we display ourselves.''

And on the world stage, there is little room for tiny missteps.

On the rings, an event China had banked on a gold, You and teammate Liu Yang - last year's champion - finished with silver and bronze after they wobbled slightly upon landing. Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece grabbed the gold after he nailed his feet to the ground at dismount.

''It is quite a regret,'' You said. ''After all, there was only one step's difference, and it was such a tiny step. I never knew until this time how important the landing would be.''

Still, despite the setbacks at worlds, the Chinese leave with their swagger intact.

''There have been regrets in Glasgow. We have seen both hopes and gaps,'' Ye said. ''But our abilities are there, and we can do high-difficulty routines. We are still very capable of winning back the men's team gold in Rio.''