China's formidable male gymnasts stormed to a long-awaited Olympic team gold medal before an ecstatic home crowd on Tuesday.
They claimed the title at 286.125 points, beating defending Olympic champion Japan to second place by a comfortable margin of 7.25 points. The United States took the bronze in 275.850 points.
Routines from the Chinese squad featuring three world champions were met with deafening cheers and applause, as the hosts determined to re-claim the Olympic team crown which they lost to Japan in Athens four years ago.
Except for a brief tie with the Japanese on the first apparatus of floor exercise, in which the hosts trailed by only 0.05 points, the Chinese kept their edge throughout the rest of the competition, with start values and stability obviously above the field.
Defending Olympic champion Japan suffered from a string of blunders, and only secured their grip on the silver medal in the last rotation, coming from behind to overtake the Americans by 3.025 points.
The injury-plagued United States team, silver-medalist in Athens, brought surprise as all its team members, including the replacements to twin bothers Paul Hamm and Morgan Hamm, performed far better than in the qualifications.
The Chinese won their first-ever men's team gold at the Sydney Games in 2000 but failed to build on the achievement in Athens, losing to arch-rivals Japan.
They bounced back with terrific results in the past two championships, pocketing five gold medals in Stuttgart last year and a record eight the previous year in Arhus including the most coveted team titles.
(Xinhua News Agency August 12, 2008)