JAKARTA: China’s gymnasts trounced their rivals in the men’s and women’s team finals yesterday, but the squad’s star man said their golden performance meant nothing after top challenger Japan sent a second-rate team to the Asian Games.
China’s fabulous five put on a majestic show in the men’s competition to claim the country’s third straight gymnastics gold at the regional Olympics in Jakarta - shortly before the Chinese women made it four.
But Lin Chaopan, who pulled off a gasp-inducing horizontal bar routine, said the final was little more than an internal team exercise.
“It doesn’t prove we are the best because Japan did not send their top team,” Lin, who secured bronze in the team event at the 2016 Rio Olympics, added.
Meanwhile China’s young women overcame stomach upsets to claim the top spot, brushing off challenges from North Korea and Japan.
Qiao Liang, the team’s coach, said he was “very, very touched by the girls’ performance” after they suffered a bout of diarrhoea before the final.
“They had some problems as they are not used to the food here,” he said.
Qiao, a former US gymnastics coach, was mobbed by the five women - which included individual all-around gold medallist Chen Yile - after the victory ceremony, each one placing their medals around his neck.
Chen told journalists she was still very nervous in the final despite her earlier victory, and said the win was “all about teamwork”.
Her team scored an impressive 165.250 to North Korea’s 157.350. Japan totted up 157.150.
The men’s event was missing several big names, mostly notable Japanese superstar “King Kohei” Uchimura - the 2012 and 2016 Olympic all-around champion.
He is among those not attending the Asian Games ahead of the world championships in Doha in October.
Japan, 2014 Asian Games champions in the team event, had led after the first round following an exquisite floor routine from Fuya Maeno, 22.
“That exercise was my only good one,” a dejected Maeno, the 2016 Doha world cup winner on the horizontal bar, said afterwards.
There were other highlights for Japan including a near-faultless high-speed vault from the nation’s newest talent, teenager Kakeru Tanigawa.
But by the time Xiao Ruoteng of China’s turn came on the horizontal bar - the final performance of the event - the Chinese were almost guaranteed victory.