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Artistic Gymnastics Day 1 Preview: Stage set for male gymnasts

Source:     2008-08-08  我要投稿   论坛   Favorite  
(BEIJING, August 8) -- The stage is set for the Olympic Men's Artistic Gymnastics qualification competition, which is to kick off tomorrow noon at the National Indoor Stadium.

The Olympic qualification round adopts a 6-5-4 format -- meaning that all six gymnasts take part, five participate in each event, and the top four scores count.

Qualification Round 1 features Italy, Spain, the United States, Mixed Group 2, Mixed Group 6 and Mixed Group 3, while Round 3 features Belarus, Mixed Group 5, the Republic of Korea, Germany, Mixed Group 1 and Romania. The Japanese men's team, the Men's Team gold medalist at Athens 2004, will compete in Qualification Round 2, alongside China, Mixed Group 4, Canada, Russia and France.

China, Japan, the United States and Germany, the top four seeds at the Olympics, are regarded as major gold contenders in the Men's Artistic Gymnastics competition.

Team USA finished second in the Men's Team final at Athens 2004. While the team's gymnasts were busy preparing to defend the title, Paul Hamm, the Athens 2004 All-Around champion, withdrew from Beijing 2008 on July 28 with a shoulder injury.

Without Paul Hamm, Team USA will surely be less competitive at Beijing 2008, but definitely not a weak team, considering that it finished fourth last year at the 2007 World Championships in Germany, when Hamm was absent. If no major mistakes are made, a podium finish in the Men's Team competition is still a high possibility.

Japan rose to the occasion at Athens 2004 by upsetting the United States and winning its first Team gold since 1976. Hiroyuki Tomita, who led Japan to the top of the podium in 2004, won silver for the Men's Parallel Bars in Athens. Tomita will once again lead Japan at the Beijing Olympics. Japan will be very much in the medal hunt.

Winner of Team gold at Sydney 2000, China has long been the world's gymnastic powerhouse. Despite its standing, the men's team struggled at Athens 2004 and finished fifth. However, with Xiao Qing, Chen Yibing and Yang Wei, three potential gold medalists for Pommel, Rings and All-Around respectively, China has every hope of restoring its confidence this time around in Beijing. With home ground advantage, China looks set to press its rivals and capture gold at home.

Germany, also a traditional gymnastic powerhouse with impressive recent achievements, arrives in Beijing led by the charismatic Fabian Hambuechen. Besides the All-Around silver and Horizontal Bar gold won in the individual apparatus finals, Hambuechen also contributed to Germany's Team bronze when it hosted the 2007 World Championships.

The Romanian men's team finished third in the team competition at Athens 2004, but it slipped to eighth at the 2007 World Championships. With six gymnasts here in Beijing, Romania will strive to perform at its best.


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