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Chen Yibing becomes rings king at Beijing Olympics
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Jovtchev took the silver in rings in the Athens Olympics. He cut the difficulty of his routine from 7.3 to 6.8, and only ranked the eighth by getting 15.525.

Yang said after the final, "I often use the routine with the difficulty of 7.5 while Chen takes his routine of 7.3. Although Chen is capable of raising the difficulty, he prefers the easier one for better execution. I think I have done a good job. Chen is surely a little bit better than me in rings. "

As a two-time world champion, Chen took a strong hold on rings in the qualification by getting the highest score of 16.525. He shared the difficulty zenith of 7.3 with Jovtchev, but enjoyed more stable execution in the qualification.

In the all-around final, Chen managed to score 16.650 points in the specialty of rings after a crushing start on pommel horse. Due to his injuries in wrist, Chen felt pain on pommel horse and gave up the competition on the horizontal bar at last." I save the energy for my rush to individual titles," said Chen after the all-around tournament.

Chen, who made his Olympic debut, remained quite calm in the final despite chants of "Come on" from the crowd. Showing no slight sign of shivers, he moved easily from one position to another and put every maneuver in tight control. Between the two rings Chen's body stretched as a bright red line.

The next-to-perfect performance won the hearts of judges and secured Chen's leading position with a score of 16.600, leaving a margin of 0.175 with his teammate Yang Wei who settled the silver.

Yang also gave a nod to Chen's performance by saying, "I think I have done a good job, but Chen's level is higher than mine in rings."

After the final, Chen told reporters in the mixed zone,"I was nervous but I have prepared psychologically. I believed I had the ability to win because I have claimed two gold medals in the last two world championships. I have a difficulty value of 7.4 but I didn't use it, because it was unnecessary to use it after the qualification."

When asked about whether he ever imaged winning two golds at the Beijing Olympics, Chen said,"Yes, I have imagined it, but I know it is very hard. But in order to achieve something, you must imagine it first. I have made lots of efforts for it."

China's dominance in rings was surely not an easy feat.

The dream to reclaim an Olympic title in rings has been held for more than two decades after the sport's legend Li Ning brought the first gold in the event at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. Li Jing and Li Xiaoshuang kicked off their rush to the title in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, but only finished as the silver and bronze medalists.

The winter came thereafter for China's rings event as no Chinese gymnast had stood on the Olympic rings podium since then.

Few people would have noticed Chen when he appeared in the 2005 World Championships in Melbourne. An injury in the shoulder forced him to stay far away from the podium and only brought a ranking of the eighth.

After honing his skills for one year, Chen began to shine in the 2006 World Championships. Relying on his consistency in execution, he defeated Jordan Jovtchev, the silver medalist in the Athens Olympics Games, and won the gold in rings. In 2007, Chen crowned again the Stuttgart World Championships, heralding another era of Chinese gymnasts in the event.

The experience endowed Chen confidence and mental strength. He became the first gymnast to compete in the team final of the Beijing Olympics and contributed 16.575 points, the highest score in rings, for China's final victory

In addition, Chen has made preparation for his another dazzling performance in men's all-around in the future. He gained no medal after a wrist wound forced him to put an abrupt end to his routine in horizontal bar in the all-around final. The 23-year-old leading gymnast reaped precious experience at the Olympic arena.

Huang Yubin, head coach of the Chinese gymnastic team, told reporters that Chen's performance in the all-around was satisfactory as he came to accumulate experience and prepare for the future.

(Xinhua News Agency August 18, 2008)

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