China Wins Women's Gymnastics Team Olympic Gold

The Chinese women gymnasts won their first ever Olympic team gold in Wednesday's final of the Beijing Olympic Games, making a historic breakthrough expected by China for decades.

With deafening hail and applause, Cheng Fei finished her routine in the last event of floor exercise and scored 15.450 points, bringing the gold to the host country which accumulated a winning total of 188.900 points.

The silver went to the United States which collected 186.525 points. Romania took the bronze with 181.525 points.

As sports analysts put it before the tournament, both China and the United States launched their rush to the gold when the competition kicked off at 10:30 AM (0230 GMT) in the National Indoor Stadium.

The United States dethroned the Chinese team in the World Championships last year and had been expecting their first Olympic team title in a foreign country.

The girls from the two countries were all dealt a blow in balance beam, their third event of the final. Leading Chinese athlete Cheng fell from the beam when she was the first to compete. Alicia Sacramone also dropped off the apparatus from the very beginning of her routine.

Cheng's teammate Deng Linlin and Li Shanshan went through the harsh psychological test and gave the Chinese team a leading position of one point.

With the tremendous support of home fans, the Chinese team put an end to the duel in the floor exercise with three next-to-perfect routines, extending the lead to 2.375.

The US girls failed to achieve their rush to the historic gold at the last moment. As the first one to represent her country in floor exercise, Sacramone rolled backward and landed on her bottom after a series of somersaults at the very beginning of her routine. The girl almost burst into tears after her competition.

Nastia Liukin and US all-around star Shawn Johnson also made mistakes in landing in the floor exercise which is their specialty.

(Xinhua News Agency August 13, 2008)

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