China captured the women's team gymnastics gold medal Wednesday at the Beijing Olympics. VOA Sports Editor Parke Brewer reports the six-member team scored a slim victory over the reigning world champion United States.
One day after their men won the team title, China's women also won Olympic gold, edging the United States by less than 2.5 points (188.900 to 186.525). Romania took the bronze (181.525).
Four years ago at the Athens Olympics, China did not win a single gold medal in gymnastics. Chinese coach Lu Shanzhen called this latest victory historic.
"This gold medal means a lot to the Chinese women's gymnastics team, to the Chinese sports delegation and the Chinese nation," Lu said. "It shows that gymnastics is a very attractive sport, full of charm and excitement. We hope more Chinese girls will join the sport and China's women's gymnastics will be even stronger in a few years."
The U.S. women had been in a good position heading into the last two of the four routines, the balance beam and the floor exercises. They are usually the team's strength. But one member fell off the beam and all three of the Americans in the floor exercise made errors that cost them.
Team member Shawn Johnson said they are disappointed, but the Chinese outperformed them.
"We are still a family and still a team," she said. "And in the end, we are more than happy and proud to represent the USA wearing the silver [medal] around our necks. We respect China for what they have done. They had a great meet today and really brought their game."
The Americans, as well as the Chinese, still have many more opportunities for gymnastics gold at these Olympics. The men's and women's individual all-around champions still need to be decided, as do all the individual apparatus titles.
Competition for the men's individual all-around title is set for Thursday.