Host China makes breakthrough with first Olympic rhythmic gymnastics medal
Source: Xinhua | 08-24-2008 19:14Special Report: 2008 Beijing Olympic Games
BEIJING, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- As rhythmic gymnastics powerhouse Russia claimed its third consecutive Olympic rhythmic group tittle, host China also celebrated its breakthrough in the sport after its quintet snatched a surprise silver medal, the country's first Olympic rhythmic medal on Sunday.
Russia, after its ace gymnast Evgeniya Kanaeva won the individual gold a day ago, added to Russia's medal tally with the rhythmic gymnastics team title with a total of 35.550 points.
China won the silver 35.225 points, followed by Belarus, in 34.900.
In a largely flawless competition, the Russians underlined their superiority with high difficulty and quality execution.
But the biggest winner might be the Chinese, who were 6th-placer in Athens and had been seeking a breakthrough in the sport on home turf, hopefully in group event.
The Chinese girls, believed to be the best rhythmic team in Asia, have been making steady progress in recent years. A rhythmic group bronze medal was the country's goal for the Games.
However, in the group final, the Chinese quintet did bring surprise to the cheering home fans when they staged charming routines with strong Chinese characteristics, accompanied by Peking Opera music.
"The silver medal is unexpected. We are so happy that we made the breakthrough for Chinese rhythmic gymnastics. It's the most glorious moment for Chinese rhythmic gymnastics," said Zhang Shuo of China.