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Hungary, China Athletes Thrill Audiences At World Gymnastics Meet - 2002-11-24

Hungary and China have something in common: their athletes were the stars at the 36th Gymnastics World Championships held in Hungary over the weekend. Crowds were thrilled by performances in the floor discipline.

Quadruple spins on toes and triple twisted tumbling combinations were among performances that thrilled the crowds as they watched young women joking with the earth's gravity in the floor discipline.

It was Elena Gomez who became the first Spanish woman ever to capture gold at the Gymnastics World Championships held in Debrecen, Hungary.

Verona van der Leur from the Netherlands was awarded the silver while American Samantha Sheehan won the bronze.

Among the men China's Olympic champion Li Xiaopeng was the main star as he underlined his mastery of the parallel bars to win his second gold of the day.

But 5,000 spectators were also thrilled when host country Hungary's Szilveszter Csollany won gold on the still rings. His victory was seen as another moral boost for a country that has often lost battles in its troubled history.

The others winning gold were Greece and Romania for the men as well as the United States and Russia for the women.

There were also some sad moments during the Gymnastics World Championships. The crowd looked in horror when Korean Yang Tae Seok suffered a dreadful fall when his chin hit a horizontal bar, during a full twisting somersault release and catch move.

Barely able to regain his balance, Yang could not complete his routine and was led away by his coach. Among other losers was Svetlana Khorkina from Russia. The 23-year old Khorkina, who has been dubbed "The Queen of the balance beam" suffered her first defeat after 12 victories throughout the 90s at the Olympic Games and other world events.

However both winners and losers received often standing ovations at the World Championships, where tickets were sold out many weeks before the event began.