The Chinese men won their 10th world team title Wednesday evening at the 2011 World Gymnastics Championships in Tokyo in dramatic fashion, upsetting host Japan which crashed and burned in the final rotation.
China, third in qualification, hit 17 of 18 routines Wednesday to score 275.161, nearly two points ahead of Japan (273.093). The U.S. team won the bronze with 273.083, just a fraction out of silver.
The Japanese men, who easily won the qualification round, had a fall on pommel horse in the second rotation. They took the lead over China after 2004 Olympic gold medalist Teng Haibin fell off parallel bars. But China rebounded with big scores on high bar to regain the lead going into the final rotation, where triple Olympic champion Zou Kai anchored the effort on floor exercise. The Japanese needed three perfect routines on high bar to win, but second-up Yusuke Tanaka fell off on a Kovacs late in his routine. World champion Kohei Uchimura followed with a routine that was near perfect until he also dropped off on a Kovacs. He got up and repeated the release, nailing the remainder of his routine and drilling his dismount. Uchimura scored 14.700, sliding Japan past the U.S. by a mere .01.
The U.S. men began the evening with the highest team total on floor exercise, but scored lower on pommel horse and still rings than they had in preliminaries. The team had some problems on vault, where Steven Legendre took a large step off the mat and Olympian Jonathan Horton landed on his hands and knees. In fourth after the fourth rotation, the U.S. gymnasts rebounded with nailed routines on parallel bars and high bar to shoot past Russia.
Russia was the surprise of the competition, trailing Japan by .074 going into the fifth rotation. But the Russians, ending on floor exercise and pommel horse, couldn't hold off the U.S. team's higher scores on parallel bars and high bar.
Ukraine took fifth, edging defending bronze medalist Germany by less than one tenth of a point, 264.102-263.926. Germany competed below its ability, with multiple falls across the events.
Korea was seventh after disastrous rotations on high bar and floor exercise. Romania was in last place throughout the competition after Marius Berbecar crashed his vault in the first rotation for a score of zero.
Competition continues Thursday evening with the women's all-around final.
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