NANNING, China (AFP) – Japan’s gymnasts have hit out at judging standards after China pipped them to the men’s team gold by just 0.1 points at the world championships saying “this is what we dread”.
Hosts China, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champions, had to rely on their last performer, 2010 world high bar champion Zhang Chenglong, to overtake their arch rivals Tuesday night at the Guangxi Gymnasium in Nanning.
On his favourite apparatus and needing 15.867 for victory, the captain of the Chinese squad mixed complicated aerial skills with giant swings to score 15.966 points before a roaring capacity crowd.
Japan’s four-time world all-around champion Kohei Uchimura had scored 15.400, the night’s previous highest, in his team’s performance.
“We have firmly done what we could. I want to say many things but I won’t,” a stunned Uchimura told Japanese reporters after China secured a record sixth straight world men’s team title, denying Japan their first in 36 years.
“I guess it is all about where you perform,” he said.
His teammate Ryohei Kato, the all-around runner-up to Uchimura at last year’s worlds, said: “This is what we dread about sports based on judging.”
Defending world floor champion Kenzo Shirai, just 18, also told Japanese media, “I don’t think we have ever lost at all.”
Japan won the 2004 Olympic team gold when China finished fifth, but have not triumphed at the world championships since 1978, finishing second behind China in their last three encounters.
But Uchimura, 25, the 2012 Olympic champion who is goes for a fifth straight all-around title on Thursday, said China had “proven strong by holding steady under pressure at home.
“As always, they have shown their mettle,” he added.
China’s coach Wang Hongwei said though his gymnasts performed high-difficulty routines they still lagged behind Japan in execution and artistry.
“In the future we intend to improve our execution and hopefully we will be once again beating our nemesis.”
Known for an array of event specialists, China slipped to fifth after their opening floor exercise but gradually closed on Japan, hitting the top team scores on the rings, vault, parallel bars and finally high bar.