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Russia's 'dream team' unbeatable, Chinese seek breakthrough
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Russia's "dream team" of world-class rhythmic gymnasts is widely expected to stage a perfect gold-winning show at the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games, as host China seeks breakthrough in team event.

Russia, a traditional rhythmic powerhouse, has proved to be unbeatable in nearly all major international events in recent years, and many believe the Beijing Olympics will be no exception.

Russian girls' outstanding technical ability and artistic performance have given them superiority in rhythmic gymnastics. Though lesser players such as Italy, Bulgaria and Belarus are also considered capable contestants, their overall strength is no match for the Russians.

Analysts said though teams such as Italy, which won the silver medal for group all-round in Athens and two consecutive world championships, may have come close to Russia in terms of difficulty score, they are still lagged behind when it comes to artistry.

"I have a vision which team will rule rhythmic gymnastics at the Beijing Games," said Irina Viner, head coach of Russia's Olympic rhythmic gymnastics team. Though she declined to name the winner-to-be, her confidence in her girls is obvious.

"There will be a fiercer battle for rhythmic titles in Beijing, but for Russia, the pressure will be much less than in the Athens," she said. In Athens, Russia netted both the individual and group titles.

The group rhythmic gold is something in the bag for Russia as it had claimed the group title in the past two Olympic Games and four world championships in a row. As the Russian quintet is as strong as ever, their defending the Olympic title in Beijing seems unquestionable.

In individual all-round competition, Russia also boasts world's top-tier rhythmic gymnasts such as world and European champions Vera Sessina, Olga Kapranova and Evgenia Kanaeva.

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