Mixed fortunes for Chinese women gymnasts at World Championships

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Luo Rui made an impressive debut at the World Gymnastics Championships after she took a temporary lead in the beam balance qualifications on Monday.

It was otherwise mixed fortunes for the four-member Chinese women's squad.

After her teammates Wei Xiaoyuan and Li Shijia both fell off the beam, the 15-year-old Luo showed nerves of steel to put up a nearly flawless performance, which earned her 14.566 points.

The Chinese girls, with no Olympic experience among them, were drawn in the first group with Israel and Turkey to perform in the morning.

They started the show from the uneven bars but Li suffered a fall and scored only 12.500 points.

Wei, the only Chinese gymnast bidding for an all-around final berth, rose to the occasion by taking 14.733 points and Luo consolidated China's dominant position by scoring 14.500 points.

Wei and Luo finished one-two after the first day's competition, which features 65 gymnasts.

"Traditionally we are strong in uneven bars and balance beam, but Luo Rui and Wei Xiaoyuan are superb today," said China's team manager Ye Zhennan.

Ye said Luo did exceptionally well in balance beam, predicting that it is hard to be overtaken by her rivals.

"At the Tokyo Olympic Games, Guan Chenchen scored 14.666 to take the gold medal. So her 14.566 is incredible," he commented.

China took the gold and silver in balance beam at the Olympic Games, through Guan and Tang Qianjing.

In floor exercise, Wei Xiaoxiao and Qi Qi both made some costly mistakes, scoring 12.833 and 12.233 points.

Qi Qi fell on her knees during the vault in both attempts but Wei kept her all-around final hopes alive with 13.266 points. She was fifth overnight with a total of 52.865 points.

The women's qualifying round will be finished on Tuesday afternoon and the top eight finishers qualify for the finals of each apparatus and the top 24 enter the all-around final.

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