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Sui could tumble into Olympic squad
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Sui Lu has become a bright new hope for Chinese gymnastics.

After picking up two gold medals last weekend at the National Gymnastics Championships, an Olympic qualifier, the 16-year-old is eying a berth at the Beijing Games.

Sui Lu performs at the National Gymnastics Championships on May 11, 2008. 

Her winning performance holds her in good stead, especially after she managed to hold off top Chinese athlete Li Shanshan on the balance beam.

While Sui had to share her floor exercise spoils with national team leader Cheng Fei, she again managed to relegate an experienced rival to second place in the form of national team member Jiang Yuyuan.

"When I saw Cheng standing on the podium at the World Championships earlier, I admired her very much," said Sui. "Now I feel I'm closer to her, as I'm at least standing on the same podium as her."

Her unexpected victory was highly praised by her coach.

"Among the young gymnasts, Sui performed the best," said Lu Shanzhen, head coach of the national team. "I'm very pleased to see her perform so well in events where we need more talented gymnasts."

Sui, who took up the sport at the age of three, made the national team in 2004.

She was also a hit at the previous Nationals, helping Shanghai win team gold and an individual silver on the floor.

She opted to raise the difficulty level of her floor techniques at the team's latest winter training camp from 5.9 to 6.4 - a bold maneuver that has now paid off. Only world champion team member Cheng attempts harder moves.

"Sui's hard work during winter training has paid off, but she still needs to work on improving her stability," said her coach Wang Qunce.

"She is among the top three Chinese gymnasts on the balance beam and has a high level on the floor. With these two gold medals, she has a great chance of making the Olympic squad."

Sui said the results have only motivated her to work harder.

"As an athlete, competing at the Olympics is your biggest dream," she said. "I know that, if I want to be the best, I need to put in more effort."

(China Daily/The Olympian May 17, 2008)

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