China triumph in men's team final at Artistic Gymnastics Worlds

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China's men staged a great show to clinch the team title at the 51st Artistic Gymnastics World Championships on Wednesday.

China started the final from the pommel horse and were fifth after the first rotation, more than 2.3 points behind Japan who had put themselves forward with a solid performance in the floor exercise.

China had only finished fourth after a below-par performance in qualification on Monday, but the Tokyo Olympic bronze winners found their form in time to lead the final after competing on three apparatuses and kept their top position until the end with 257.858 points.

"We didn't expect that our performance in the qualification could be terrible like that, but we also didn't expect that we could be so great in the final," said veteran You Hao, who is aiming for his third appearance at the Olympic Games in 2024.

Tokyo Olympic runners-up Japan suffered several errors, especially on the pommel horse. They had to settle for second place with 253.395 points, more than seven points less than they had collected in the qualification. Britain came from behind to finish third with 247.229 points.

The top three teams all booked their places at the 2024 Olympic Games.

"We were not sure that we were capable of beating Japan, because their starting scores in total were higher than ours," said the 30-year-old You. "But we felt we had nothing to lose after the qualification, while the Japanese gymnasts were obviously under stress as they were the top qualifiers."

Olympic parallel bars champion Zou Jingyuan not only achieved the evening's highest score by claiming 15.766 points from his strongest event, but also led the rings with 14.866 points.

"I told my teammates that we don't need to look at the scores," said Zou. "We only need to focus on our performance. As long as we complete our routines well, our confidence will be boosted."

China coach Wang Guoqing was pleased with the team's performance. "We did have some errors but the athletes have made them as few as possible."

Wang added that this team could form China's squad for the Paris Olympics. "And if some experienced gymnasts such as Xiao Ruoteng return in time, we could be even stronger."

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