China reclaim men's team world title in style

Zou Jingyuan delivered an exceptional rings performance in the World Championship men's team final (Pic: Simone Ferraro)
Zou Jingyuan delivered an exceptional rings performance in the World Championship men's team final (Pic: Simone Ferraro)

By Paul Martin at the M&S Bank Arena

China reclaimed their World Championship men’s team crown with a dominant display in the Liverpool showpiece.

The class of 2022 upgraded the silver China took home from Stuttgart three years ago to claim their record-extending 13th gold in the event and book a quota place at Paris 2024.

Zou Jingyuan delivered masterclasses on vault and rings while Olympic all-around champion Zhang Boheng was typically consistent and sealed the outcome on the floor.

"This team gold medal means that Chinese men's team gymnastics is rising again," Zhang said.

“We did so much better compared to the qualification and it [Olympic qualification] definitely helps reduce the pressure and anxiety. But we will not take it lightly, we will still work hard.”

"After one day of refreshing our minds and reflecting after the qualifiers, we got great momentum and rhythm today.

“On the first rotation we kind of struggled a little bit with nerves, especially we on pommel horse, which is difficult to control somehow.”

Japan had qualified top but were forced to settle for silver in the showpiece, with a Joe Fraser-inspired Great Britain surging from the foot of the standings at the halfway stage to earn a remarkable bronze at Italy’s expense.

But none of the chasing pack were able to overhaul China, who sat fifth after the pommel - which proved problematic for all nations throughout a dramatic final.

A strong rings showing brought them back to second and they hit the front at halfway, a position they cemented with a superb display on parallel bars - Zou recording a superb 15.766.

Zhang felt China's 'pursuit of perfection' cost them in qualifying, when they finished behind Japan, Great Britain and USA, but they saved their best for when it mattered.

“In the qualifications we were not at our best because of the time difference or some other reasons," he added.

“Then we just adjusted ourselves and tried our best in the finals.

“My performance today is not the best, but it is OK. My focus was on the team and my teammates really did well.

“I want to say it was a really brilliant competition. All the teams in the final did really good performances, and there’s a great future for gymnastics.”

For Zou, this success represented a second World Championship team gold as he backed up his triumph from 2018.

“It is quite different," he said. "Getting gold with the team is always exciting, but this time I am excited especially for my teammates because it is their first time.

“I am extremely happy for Yang Jiaxing, because we have been training together since we were young and we have been through a lot of competitions together in our junior careers.

“We are close friends. He finally got the gold medal so I am so happy for him.”

The World Gymnastics Championships Liverpool 2022 will be one of the largest international sporting events ever to be held in the city. Over 500 gymnasts from more than 70 countries will compete at the M&S Bank Arena from 29 October to 6 November 2022. Tickets are available at www.2022worldgymnastics.com/tickets.