Cheng Says OK Despite Teammates' Falls During Training

Cheng Fei, world champion and leading figure of the Chinese gymnastics women's team, said she felt just OK despite her teammates Jiang Yuyuan and Yang Yilin's fall from balance beam during the podium training on Thursday.

"It's quite usual for gymnasts to make errors during training," said Cheng, a world champion on floor exercise and vault who is believed to spearhead the Chinese women's team to a gold haul on home turf. "We need not make a fuss about such things."

"Besides, it's only training, not the real competition," she said. But she admitted the flawed routines may leave an adverse impression on the judges.

As for herself, Cheng said she felt good about her training. "I did OK today. I hope I can maintain such level of training in the coming days."

Cheng vaulted nine times during the podium training, and she said she is satisfied with her vaults. Cheng is the vault gold medalist in three consecutive World Championships.

Lu Shanzhen, coach of the Chinese women's team, also brushed aside suspicion about his girls' falls. "Overall, I am satisfied with their performance today," Lu said.

"Of course, I hope our gymnasts perform stably, but considering the characteristics of balance beam and it's also our first apparatus today, I think it's quite normal to make some mistakes," he said.

But for Jiang Yuyuan, who also fell from uneven bars, Lu said he did think Jiang was under her performance. But Jiang did well on vault and floor exercise, Lu added.

Asked about the draw of the Chinese team, which places the Chinese girls in qualification 1 which starts in the morning with beam as the first apparatus, Lu said he will feel more comfortable if they "compete in the afternoon or in the evening."

"But it is hard to guarantee that you are always lucky. The results of the draw won't affect their performances," he said.

The gymnastics women's team gold in the Beijing Games is widely believed to be a showdown between the Chinese team and the US team.

(Xinhua News Agency August 7, 2008)

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