12/10 Tokyo: China are once again crowned the men's team champions in a tense battle in Tokyo, their consistency proving the key to give them the World title.
The home crowd were left stunned after 2 falls on high bar, Japans final piece, not only cost them the crown but almost the silver too, a nervy wait resulting in a 0.01 lead over the USA who took the bronze.
1 CHN 275.161,
2 JPN 273.093,
3 USA 273.083
With the USA and Japan in a league of their own in qualification the battle was set for the full crowd anticipating an epic contest in the 2011 artistic gymnastics World Championship men’s team final.
Competing on the same piece as the two nations were head to head and the crowd transfixed as early errors by other countries, notably Romania on vault and Germany on pommel, their challenge early, whilst Russia and China started well.
After the first rotation, floor, the US and Japan were separated by less than a mark with the Ukraine in the lead thanks to the higher scores given over on vault. To pommel, not known as one of the strongest piece for the Americans but they went clean in the 3 up 3 scores count format, Japan however did not, with Kobayashi, their first gymnast spinning off, giving the US the edge.
Elsewhere the Russian and Korean gymnasts on vault made sure they took advantage of the inflated vault scores to both post over 48 points.
Onto the third piece and the pendulum swings back to the Japanese as, led by a 15.366 by Koji Yamamuro, got the upper hand on rings. At the half way mark Russia, China and Korea were ahead (having vaulted) and the Ukraine split the Japanese and American teams.
The USA struggled on vault, a step out by Legendre, clear from Dalton but Horton landing on his knees to give a combined score of 47.765. Japan also had trouble with Okiguchi taking a huge step off the matt second up, still Japan forged a lead with 48.700.The Russians and Chinese meanwhile were looking solid, out of the attention of the crowd, China’s p.bars score of 45.432 shooting them up the standings
This meant with all countries having vaulted after 4 of 6 rotations, Japan had the lead followed by Russia, China and the USA, less than 2 points separating the four nations.
Japan and China then took to p.bars and high bars respectively and both teams nailed their routines, in the pressure of every routine counting, each one was greeted with huge cheers. On floor Russia also stayed In the hunt although were not as high scoring as the American and Japanese earlier in the competition.
And to the final piece and China had taken the lead thanks to their great work on both the bars and vault, Japan in second, Russia third and USA in fourth looking slightly adrift but with great promise on high bar to come.
The American’s were the first to post a score, being in the first group on their apparatus, three clean high bar routines helping them to a total of 273.083. Russia over on pommel kept things solid and scored 269.045.
It then became a Japan vs. China match, every Japanese move cheered by the capacity crowd with noise levels seldom heard in the gymnastics arena, Japan on the dramatic high bar and China on the floor. It was the Japanese gymnast Yusuke Tanaka that was to be the fall guy, the high bar just out of reach and he slumped to the floor, the crowd stunned.
China were clean and precise on floor to post a score of 275.162, leaving Japanese superstar Kohei Uchimura needing 16.768 in the very last routine of the night on high bar for the gold, an impossible ask and in doing so he fell, his difficulty level proving just enough to keep hold of the team silver for Japan.