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Yao Shines as Zibo World Cup Begins in China
(7 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

The only apparatus World Cup of 2012 began Saturday in Zibo, China, where gymnasts fought for spots to Sunday's finals. Only the top four gymnasts from each event advance to the final under FIG rules.

Yao Jinnan (China)

Yamilet Peña of the Dominican Republic led the women's vault qualification by standing up her handspring double front for 15.700 (7.1 Difficulty), albeit landing in a deep squat.

Five-time world champion Cheng Fei, 24, returned to international competition in Zibo. Cheng, who suffered a torn ACL in 2009, qualified second to the vault final (double-twisting Yurchenko for 14.650, layout Podkopayeva for 14.200) behind Peña. The two-time Chinese Olympian took steps on both her vaults but said she was pleased with her result.

"All the aspects of today's performance went well," she said. "I wasn't afraid. This competition is a great encouragement for me."

Mexico's Alexa Moreno qualified third ahead of world bronze medalist Phan Thi Ha Thanh (Vietnam).

World all-around bronze medalist Yao Jinnan of China led qualification on uneven bars (15.625/6.8 D) and balance beam (15.175). On bars, Yao caught her new Stalder-Shaposhnikova-half transition, which she has submitted to the FIG to be named after her.

Teammate Huang Qiushuang was second to Yao on both events. Venezuela's Jessica Lopez and Australia's Larrissa Miller rounded out the bars finalists, while Yana Demyanchuk (Ukraine) and Lauren Mitchell (Australia) also advanced to the beam final.

Mitchell had the top score on floor exercise with 14.575 (whip, Arabian double to stag leap; piked full-in to sissone; 2 1/2 punch layout front; double pike), finishing .075 over Canadian upstart Victoria Moors (double-double; 1 1/2 to triple twist; 2 1/2 twist; double tuck). Huang and Lopez also advanced to the final.

Former world champion Feng Zhe was the only Chinese man to top the leaderboard Saturday, qualifying first on parallel bars. British star Louis Smith outscored world and Olympic champion Teng Haibin on pommel horse, 15.825-15.700, with world champion Krisztian Berki (Hungary) qualifying third.

Greek gymnast Eleftherios Petrounias topped world and Olympic champion Chen Yibing on still rings, 15.650-15.625. Chen, who is suffering from an arm injury, took a large step on his dismount.

2011 world champion Danell Leyva (U.S.) erred on parallel bars, but qualified first on high bar over 2010 world champion Zhang Chenglong (China).

Competition concludes Sunday with the apparatus finals.

External Link: Chinese Gymnastics Association

(Complete results not yet available)

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