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Comaneci expects China success in Olympic gymnastics
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Gymnastics legend Nadia Comaneci believes that Chinese gymnasts will do a great job in this year's Beijing Olympic Games.

Comaneci, looking to the Olympics in August, sang high praise for the Chinese national team on Sunday, eve of the ninth Laureus World Sports Awards.

"The Chinese team is very very good," she told Xinhua. "In men's competition, I don't think any other team could be better than them."

"Women's competition will be very close. Of course the best will win. But it's a great advantage to have Olympics in your country. You'll have a lot of support, which is great.

"It would be difficult for everybody else to get a hand on the medals," she added.

But the 1976 Olympic heroine believes that other sides still have chance to compete with the hosts.

"I know the Chinese team wants to take everything. It's a huge opportunity to have the Games in your country," she said.

"We'll just have to see. It's one thing to be good in the paper, and it's another to perform the best in that particular day."

She anticipated strong performance from Chinese multi-world champion Yang Wei and Shawn Johnson of the United States in particular, when asked if there could be any super star in Beijing.

"He (Yang) is fantastic. In men's competition, he has no equal. In women's we'll see. But I think Shawn Johnson would be able to (be a super star).

"She's good. But as I said, it's in China. So it's going to be hard for her," said Comaneci, who was born in Romania but a U.S. citizen now.

Johnson, 16, won three gold medals in team, all-around and floor categories in the 2007 world championships in Stuttgart.

Comaneci, the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of ten in an Olympics, said that the sport today was very different from what it used to be.

"Equipment is safer and better; gymnasts do a lot more difficult skills; and of course, the points are different, the 10.00 exist only in execution.

"Now it's open scoring, a little confusing for the fans. But I'm sure gymnastics will attract much attention in Beijing."

At the age of 14, Comaneci became one of the stars of the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.

During the team portion of the competition, her routine on the uneven bars was scored at a 10.0. Over the course of that Games, she earned six additional 10s, en route to capturing the all-around, beam and bars titles and a bronze medal on the floor exercise.

(Xinhua News Agency February 18, 2008)

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