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Chinese male gymnasts lead the 2nd qualification round
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Chinese male gymnasts led the second qualification round of men's gymnastics by a large margin Saturday afternoon.

In a rehearsal of the showdown between team gold favorite China and defending Olympic champion Japan, the Chinese reaped a total of 374.675 points, leading second-placed Japan by five points. Russia finished third in 366.225.

Not only veterans like Yang Wei, Li Xiaopeng and Huang Xu, but also upstarts like Xiao Qin, Chen Yibin and Zhou Kai did their share well to send the Chinese team to the top notch.

The Chinese rose to first place after four apparatus, with superb difficulty scores and execution. And in the end, they finished first on four out of six apparatus, namely, pommel horse, rings, vault and parallel bars.

Yang Wei, two-time world championships all-round gold medalist and the leading figure of the team favored to claim an individual all-round title, finished his routines almost perfectly to deafening applauses from home crowd.

But the parallel bars dealt him a little setback when his left arm lost control to let his elbow hit the bar. But he still nailed the first place as individual with 93.875 points.

"Generally speaking, I am satisfied with my job today. But I feel sorry for my mistake on parallel bars," said Yang after the qualifications.

Li Xiaopeng, whose arm was seen bleeding after his parallel routine, said the bleeding came from a wound on the skin. "It's not a serious and won't affect me. My arm is easy to bleed. Whatever, I will fight on," he said.

Li, who scored 78.50 points on his four apparatus, said he did think the qualifications is a good start for the Chinese team. "The team is in high spirit now," he said.

Gao Jian, director of the gymnastics center of the General Administration of Sport, echoed Li, saying he was happy to see the Chinese male gymnasts eventually shake off the habit of having a bad start, like in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens.

"More important, all our gold hopefuls realized their goal of making the final which sets them on the springboard for the gold medals," Gao said.

Hiroyuki Tomita, leading figure on the gold-winning Japanese team in Athens, ended fourth as individual, with 91.90 points. He said he was not in form and that his mistakes on rings and vault cost him points.

"My body is very heavy, so many of the maneuvres are hard to complete. Sometimes, I can't do my best, but that happens very rarely," he said."I must adapt myself for the competition before the final."

After two qualification rounds, eight teams had taken the floor. And the remaining four teams will play in the third qualification round.

(Xinhua News Agency August 9, 2008)

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