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Thursday, 14 August 2008

Tue, Aug 12th, 2008 2:16 pm BdST

BEIJING, Aug 12 (bdnews24.com/Reuters) - China's gymnasts returned to the Olympic stage with a vengeance on Tuesday by storming to the men's team gold, sparking jubilant celebrations among the home fans.

Four years after they failed to get a team medal in Athens, double world all-round champion Yang Wei led from the front to ensure one of the traditional powerhouses of men's gymnastics reclaimed their pre-eminence.

After a shaky start on the floor, China surged to the top of the leaderboard by the end of rotation four and from then on there was only going to be one winner.

They earned a score of 286.125 to dethrone 2004 champions Japan by 7.250 points. The United States settled for bronze.

The race between the two Asian superpowers had been expected to go down to the wire on the horizontal bar, which has traditionally been China's nemesis.

But China's four survivors from the Athens—Yang, Li Xiaopeng, Xiao Qin and Huang Xu—along with Olympic debutants Chen Yibing and Zou Kai obliterated the opposition with their commanding performances on all six apparatus.

Their only slip-up proved to be at the start when Chen was penalised for stumbling backwards and out of the marked area on the floor exercise following his final tumbling combination.

That first score of 14.575 ended up being their lowest score of the competition and they went on to excel on rings and parallel bars with all six scores breaking the 16.000 points barrier.

Germany, Korea, Russia, Romania and France completed the final eight.

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