China rebounded from an awful qualifying day to win the men’s team title at the world gymnastics championships by the largest margin in 15 years. The U.S. placed fifth, extending its medal drought since earning bronze in 2014.
In qualifying, China, which owns a record 13 men’s team titles, had eight falls among its 18 routines that it would use in the final. But the Chinese were in no danger of missing the eight-team final, making it in fourth place. Then scores reset after qualifying.
China totaled 257.858 points in the final, distancing longtime rival Japan by 4.463 to win its first global title since 2018. It marked the largest margin of victory in the event since the 2007 Worlds. Before Wednesday, the four most recent world men’s team titles, plus the Tokyo Olympics, were decided by less than a point.
The Chinese prevailed among an error-filled field in Liverpool, England, led by Zhang Boheng, who goes for a repeat world all-around title on Friday.
“Chinese men’s team gymnastics is rising again,” Zhang said, according to the International Gymnastics Federation. “In qualification, we faced some difficulties in adapting to the weather and apparatus. We obviously had mistakes, but after two days of reviews, we put out some good performances today.”
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The absence of Russian gymnasts who won the Olympic title — and are now banned due to the war in Ukraine — opened up a podium spot behind China and Japan.
Great Britain emerged from the rubble of fall-heavy teams to earn bronze over Italy, despite not having its biggest star over the last decade, Max Whitlock. The two-time Olympic pommel horse gold medalist has been on a break since Tokyo.
The U.S., which qualified third into the final, had major errors on pommel horse, high bar and floor exercise. The Americans, who also finished fifth at the Tokyo Olympics, are in their longest medal drought since missing the podium at every Olympics and worlds between 1985 and 2000.
“We just weren’t able to get it done,” U.S. high performance director Brett McClure told GymCastic. “I honestly don’t need to say too much [to them]. They know what they need to do. I’m sure they’re motivated to get back out there.”
Worlds continue Thursday with the women’s all-around final (2:50 p.m. ET, Peacock). Rebeca Andrade is favored to become the first Brazilian to win a world all-around title. Americans Shilese Jones and Jade Carey are also medal contenders.
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