China captures team title at World Gymnastics Championships

Wed Aug 20, 3:28 AM ET Add U.S. National - AFP to My Yahoo!

ANAHEIM, California (AFP) - Reigning Olympic champion China captured their fifth World Championship title in the past six events, finishing 0.875 points ahead of runner-up United States.

China's men's gymnastics team took the gold with 171.996 points from the US on 171.121 points and Japan were third with 170.708 points. Russia finished fourth with 168.771 points.

Teng Hai-bin clinched the title for China by nailing his final routine in convincing fashion with a 9.725 score on the high bar. Teng also had a 9.712 on the vault.

"I feel great," said Teng. "This is a difficult competition. My performance will be even better in the individual finals."

China got another superb performance from Li Xiao-peng on the parallel bars (9.762) to help pad their overall lead heading into the final high bar apparatus.

"I have more confidence on the parallel bars now," said Li.

China also won titles in 1994, 1995, 1997 and 1999. They sent a second-string team to the 2001 worlds in Ghent, Belgium where they placed seventh in preliminaries and fifth in the medal round.

China finished third in team qualifying behind the US and Japan. But they took advantage of a new scoring system which was implemented here for the first time.

Despite winning the qualifying round, the US was unable to repeat their success in the team finals.

The US has never won a team gold at the Worlds in men's or women's competition. They also picked up the silver at the 2001 Worlds and placed fifth at the Sydney Olympics (news - web sites).

Romania rounded out the top five with 167.909 points. South Korea (news - web sites) (166.283) was sixth, France (165.546) placed seventh and Ukraine finished eighth (165.108).

There was controversy surrounding the American's vault routine when Morgan Hamm (news - web sites) changed his vault at the last minute and neglected to inform the judges.

As a result, the US had their overall score changed after Hamm was originally given too high a score by the judges. It was adjusted downward from 9.512 to 9.112.

This is the first year the Federation of International Gymnastics has used its new scoring system which leaves little room for error.

Three gymnasts per team compete on each of the six apparatus. All three scores count in a departure from the old system where only the top four scores of the five competing athletes counted towards the final tally.

Copyright AP