Lucky charm lifts Chinese men to gold
Wednesday, 13 August 2008

BEIJING, Aug 12 ( - A lucky charm put the finishing touch to a four-year struggle by the Chinese men's gymnastics team, who nailed a gold in the team competition on Tuesday.

Each of the six men wore a thin red string from a temple on his wrist in the finals for luck and they also counted on hard work and a little pressure.

The Chinese had been favourites in 2004 after they won their first team gold in Sydney in 2000 but a series of errors on the floor exercise meant they had failed to take a team medal in Athens.

The horizontal bar, traditionally their weakest apparatus, was the last round on Tuesday and they came through with flying colours, leaping into an emotional huddle the instant the score was announced.

"The pressure had been on us since we failed to meet our goal in Athens," a relieved Yang Wei, who competed in every category except the bar, told reporters.

"We have been preparing all along. Every day since we got back from the last Olympics, we would ask ourselves, 'What can we do to be ready for the Olympics? Have we done enough?'" Li Xiaopeng, at 27 a three-times Olympian, had tried not to let the pressure get to him.

"Last night I went to sleep earlier than Yang Wei. Yes, I felt the pressure but I have to be quiet and calm so I can do this," Li said.

Youngster Zou Kai, who pulled off what his elated coach called an "almost perfect performance" on the horizontal bar, looked as pleased as his older team mates but much more at ease when he met reporters.

"There was a little bit of pressure but it was also to our advantage," he said. "Everyone pulled together."

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