World Gymnastics Championships: Yao, Liu strike gold for China

Yao Jinnan and Liu Yang upset the established order as they claimed gold for hosts China with their maiden individual titles at the world gymnastics championships on Saturday.

AFP| Last Updated: Oct 11, 2014, 18:22 PM IST
World Gymnastics Championships: Yao, Liu strike gold for China

Nanning, China: Yao Jinnan and Liu Yang upset the established order as they claimed gold for hosts China with their maiden individual titles at the world gymnastics championships on Saturday.

Yao, 19, pipped defending champion and compatriot Huang Huidan by a razor-thin 0.067 points in the women`s uneven bars for her first world crown, which follows her four-gold rampage at the Asian Games last month.

And Liu, 20, stunned Olympic and world champion Arthur Nabarrete Zanetti of Brazil on the men`s rings in a show of strength that lifted him from last year`s fourth place.

Yao, sixth on the uneven bars last year, outdid Huang in qualifying and she carried her momentum into the eight-way final at the Guangxi Gymnasium in Nanning.

She was seen rushing to the athletes` passage after seeing her winning score.

"Nothing happened. I was just very happy," Yao explained later. She also had to console her defeated teammate. "When I saw Huang Huidan crying, I really thought that she did better than me."

"So it`s just a feeling that I don`t know how to express."

Yao has changed her given name this year to Ziyi because Jinnan phonetically sounds similar to words meaning "hard to get gold."

She will start using the new name in competition next year but the change has paid off with her successful defence of the national title in May and her Asiad one-woman show in South Korea.

But having finished only fifth in the world all-around on Friday, Yao said she was not using elements of extreme difficulty which she usually practises.

"I think I have done 80 per cent of myself," she said. "I think my performance still had several tiny flaws.

"I will continue working hard, making up for my poor events and keeping doing well in my skilled events."

As the last performer, Yao dazzled with high-level pirouetting and aerial skills and finished with a lofty double layout somersault.

She earned 15.633 points with Huang at 15.566. Russian Daria Spiridonova came in third at 15.283.

Yao won balance beam silver and team bronze at the 2011 worlds when she was also third in the all-around. but dogged by a thigh injury, she failed to medal at the 2012 Olympics.

Liu, who contributed to China`s men`s team victory over Japan with a top rings score, outdid the 24-year-old Zanetti in both difficulty and execution.

Displaying solid strength moves and clockwork swings, Liu collected 15.933 points against Zanetti`s 15.733. Another Chinese competitor, You Hao, tied for third spot with Russia`s Denis Abliazin.

Liu, 20, said his performance was not "text book", as some reports had admiringly described it, as his young age meant he still had much to learn. "I still have a long way to go, so I still need work hard," he said.

In the other apparatus events, North Korea`s Olympic champion Hong Un-Jong won the women`s vault, beating all-around champion Simone Biles of the United States into second spot.

Hungary`s Olympic champion Krisztian Berki won his third world pommel horse title, following his triumphs in 2010 and 2011.

European champion Abliazin won the men`s floor gold at 15.750, with defending champion Kenzo Shirai of Japan second on 15.733 after he was hit with a 0.1-point deduction for stepping out of bounds after one of his tumbling passes.

The championships close on Sunday with the remaining event-by-event finals: women`s balance beam and floor exercise, and men`s vault, parallel bars and high bar.