China dominates Japan in botched men’s gymnastics championships

China won their 12th men’s gymnastics world championship on Wednesday, putting up six solid if not always spectacular rotations to claim victory over rivals Japan in what looked like a battle of attrition.

The Chinese posted a total of 257.858 points, more than four points ahead of the Japanese. Hosts Great Britain overcame an error-filled set on pommel horse to claim bronze.

All three teams secured an automatic spot for the 2024 Paris Olympics by finishing on the podium in a meeting in which only the Chinese appeared to be able to avoid crash-laden performances.

Italy finished fourth, followed by the United States, who found themselves in last place after a shaky performance on pommel horse in the first rotation and never fully recovered.

“We got into trouble in the first event (pommel horse) and basically had to go back,” said USA men’s high performance director Brett McClure. “At the last event (on floor) we were still in the mix, surprisingly, but we just couldn’t put it together. So it’s back to the gym and back to work.”

China averaged fourth place in qualifying, but as is often the program’s custom, they looked much more polished in the finals. China had the best score in the three up/three down format in five of the six events.

“In qualifying, we weren’t at our best because of jet lag or other reasons,” said Chinese star Zhang Boheng. “Then we adjusted and gave our best in the final.”

Russia, the reigning Olympic champion, is currently banned from competing at events organized by the FIG and the European Gymnastics Federation due to the war in Ukraine.

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This story was originally published November 2, 2022 7:31 p.m.

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