Although it’s not official yet, according to this Xinhua article, the following gymnasts are expected to be named to the Chinese Olympic gymnastics team next week (in ranking order):
Men: Yang Wei (杨威), Li Xiaopeng (李小鹏), Chen Yibing (陈一冰), Xiao Qin (肖钦), Huang Xu (黄旭), Zou Kai (邹凯)
Women: Cheng Fei (程菲), Jiang Yuyuan (江钰源), Yang Yilin (杨伊琳), He Kexin (何可欣), Li Shanshan (李珊珊), Deng Linlin (邓琳琳)
For the first time in history, China is favored to win both gold medals in the team competition for both men and women, a feat they accomplished at the 2006 Worlds in Aarhus, Denmark. With a new judging system that awards routines with a high level of difficulty along with a high level of execution (sort of like diving), the difficult routines of the Chinese gymnasts are expecting to not only bring in record high scores, but bring home two gold medals for both the men and women’s teams.
The big question mark heading into the Games will be, can the Chinese team put it all together? Four years ago in Athens, the Chinese men were also favored to win gold and the Chinese women had a legitimate shot at the gold medal after finishing 3rd in the preliminary competition. They finished 5th and 7th respectively.
In-depth analysis after the cut!
The Chinese men are heavily favored to win team gold, with their main competition coming from the teams from Japan, Germany, USA, and Russia. And by “main competition”, we mean teams that could win the competition if China bombs big time. Just to demonstrate their dominance over men’s gymnastics, the Chinese team won last year’s World Championship team title by 4.875 points. In layman’s terms, they could have fallen 6 times and they still would have won the competition.
Their team is stacked with two-time World All-Around Champion, Yang Wei (杨威); three-time pommel horse World Champion and perhaps the greatest gymnast ever on the pommel horse, Xiao Qin (肖钦); power event specialist, Zou Kai (邹凯); two-time still rings World Champion, Chen Yibing (陈一冰); and the owner of 8 World Championship gold medals and 2 Olympic gold medals, Li Xiaopeng (李小鹏). Li will be returning to competition after an ankle injury kept him out of the past two World Championships.
The Chinese women on the other hand will have a tougher fight on their hands. They are on a collision course with their now bitter rivals, the Americans. And with the U.S. team selection happening this weekend, you can bet both teams will be looking for the other’s weaknesses. The rivalry started at the 2006 Worlds, when the Chinese women upset the Americans by winning team gold. Last year, though, the Chinese team settled for silver while the American team claimed gold.
Two years ago, the team made history by winning the gold medal at the 2006 Worlds. However, only one member of that team will make the Olympic team, three-time World Champion on the vault, Cheng Fei (程菲). Although with Cheng Fei, the team consists of three medalists at this year’s National Championships held two months ago in Tianjin: Jiang Yuyuan (江钰源), Yang Yilin (杨伊琳), and Deng Linlin (邓琳琳). Joing those four talented gymnasts will be uneven bars sensation, He Kexin (何可欣) and member of the 2007 Worlds team, Li Shanshan (李珊珊).
With an estimated 2 point advantage in terms of difficulty going into the team competition, the Chinese women hope to beat the Americans, and win all four individual apparatus gold medals up for grabs.
Photo of Yang Wei (杨威) from Sina Sports