The Chinese Gymnastics Association announced on Tuesday the squads which hope to defend China's team titles at this summer's Olympic Games in London. Pictured: Huang Qiushuang is one of four gymnasts with secured spots on the women's team.
The Chinese Gymnastics Association announced on Tuesday the squads which hope to defend China's team titles at this summer's Olympic Games in London.
Chen Yibing, Feng Zhe, Teng Haibin, Zhang Chenglong and Zou Kai comprise the formidable men's team, which possesses a combined 29 world and Olympic titles (14 individual). National all-around champion Guo Weiyang and 2009 world still rings champion Yang Mingyong are alternates. Chen, who owns 10 world and Olympic titles, will serve as the team captain.
Four gymnasts have secured spots on the women's squad — Sui Lu, Yao Jinnan, Deng Linlin and Huang Qiushuang. He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan and Tan Sixin are the three gymnasts in contention for the final berth on the five-member team.
Ten-time world and Olympic champion Chen Yibing will serve as captain of the Chinese men's team in London.
China hopes to rely on experience in London; all of the gymnasts have competed in at least one world championships and six have Olympic experience.
Chen and Zou were members of the dominant Chinese team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where the host team won seven of eight available gold medals. Chen took the title on still rings, and Zou won floor exercise and high bar. Teng won the Olympic title on pommel horse at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, where the Chinese men inexplicably crumbled in team finals to finish out of the medals.
2008 Olympic pommel horse titlist Xiao Qin was left off the team, though he won the pommel horse title at the Chinese championships in May in Shanghai. The other three 2008 Olympians — Olympic all-around champion Yang Wei, parallel bars champion Li Xiaopeng and Huang Xu — have retired.
With the exception of Teng, the 2012 men's team is made up of apparatus specialists. The FIG decreased each team to five gymnasts, down from six in 2008, in order to allow more individual qualifiers.
"It will be extremely hard for us to defend the team title this time," Chen said in May. "We lack the all-around talent now, so everybody has to dig deeper and try to make up for each other's weak event."
Deng, He and Jiang competed in Beijing, where they helped the Chinese women win their first Olympic team gold medal. In finals, He won the gold medal on uneven bars.
2008 team members Yang Yilin and Cheng Fei had been in contention for the 2012 team. Cheng, China's most decorated female gymnast, was forced out Thursday when she tore her Achilles' tendon during training.
Sui, the reigning world champion on balance beam, and Yao, the world all-around bronze medalist, were locks for spots on the team. Deng, the 2009 world champion on balance beam, won the all-around title in Shanghai.
Meanwhile, first-year seniors Huang Huidan and Zeng Siqi — who had been considered 2012 Olympic hopefuls as junior standouts — failed to make the final cut.
The Chinese men have won the past five worlds in addition to the 2008 Olympics and are favorites again in London. The Chinese women were third at the past two world championships but may finish off the podium in London if they cannot shake their notorious inconsistency.
The 10 Olympians and four alternates will travel next month to Northern Ireland to train before heading to London, where the Olympics begin July 27.
External Link: Chinese Gymnastics Association