Zhang leads China to gold at gymnastics worlds
NANNING, China (AP) Led by Zhang Chenglong on the horizontal bar, China won its sixth straight gold medal in the men's team event at the gymnastics world championships on Tuesday.
Japan led after five of six disciplines, and four-time world all-around champion Kohei Uchimura looked to have secured his team's first gold medal in the event in 36 years. But Zhang's near-flawless routine on the horizontal bar erased a 15.866-point deficit as China beat Japan by 0.1.
The United States took the bronze medal, and Britain finished fourth.
''We felt we gave it all we could,'' Uchimura said. ''Zhang's performance was spectacular. We gave it 100 percent and while we can't be satisfied with the result we can be pleased with our performances.''
China entered unbeaten in world championships team competition since 2003.
Japan won silver at the previous three worlds where the team competition took place: 2007, 2010 and 2011. No team competition was contested at the 2009 and 2013 worlds.
Japan took an early two-point lead in the floor exercise thanks to a strong performance from 18-year-old Kenzo Shirai, who executed his trademark quadruple twist.
China, which edged Japan in the qualifications, got off to a shaky start in the floor routine when Cheng Ran fell on a tumbling skill but the hosts moved into medal position after three apparatus and trailed Japan after the fourth and fifth disciplines.
Trailing Japan by a slim margin, China narrowed the lead with precise routines on the horizontal bar by Deng Shudi and Lin Chaopan.
Needing to deliver a score of 15.867 or better, Zhang, who claimed his fourth world championship gold medal, nailed a series of complex aerial skills and pirouetting elements before dismounting to roars from the crowd that only got louder when his score of 15.966 was posted.
China's team score of 273.369 points was just enough for the win, and Japan took silver with 273.269 points.
The battle for bronze was just as intense.
The United States, Russia and Britain were almost even as they headed into their last apparatus, but the Americans out-performed Britain on the floor exercise to secure third place with 270.369 points.
Britain was fourth with 269.170 points, and less-than-perfect pommel horse routines dropped Russia out of medal contention. The Russians finished fifth with 266.503 points.
Brazil (263.562), Switzerland (257.293) and Germany (256.160) rounded out the field.