RIO DE JANEIRO: The world gymnastics chief has blamed China’s “robotic” style in Rio for the once-dominant team’s worst Olympics in over 30 years.
China failed to take a gold for the first time since 1984—winning just two team bronze— and for the first time failing to get an individual Olympic medal.
A Kohei Uchimura-powered Japan toppled China’s men, two-time gold medallists since Beijing 2008. China failed to defend any of their titles from London 2012.
FIG president Bruno Grandi said the Chinese had failed to move with the times as they dropped to the 11th on the medal table, behind hosts Brazil.
“They’ve remained trapped in a robotic style of training,” Grandi told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday.
“They’re beginning to change a bit now. Those who have kept pace with the changes are the Japanese.
“They (Japan) have improved the construction of their exercises, leaving behind Eastern-style choreographies to move towards the West, that is to say more harmony, imagination, creativity.
“I’m not criticizing Japanese culture, which is huge, but they have built a nice crowd-pleasing routine for the spectators.
“They’ve moved away from tradition, and the Chinese should do the same. If they stay like they are, they are robots. They are perfect on geometric lines, but eurythmy does not exist.”
Japan got two gold in the men’s team and Uchimura’s all-around Rio along with Kenzo Shirai’s bronze on the vault.
‘Form of slavery’
Former Italian gymnast Grandi will step down later this year after 20 years as head of the world gymnastics body. He will be replaced by Japanese gymnastics chief Morinari Watanabe.
He said one of his greatest achievements had been raising the age limit at which gymnasts could compete.
China have often been accused of fielding under-age gymnasts, with controversy surrounding the two previous Olympics.
“I fought to raise the age (16 for women and 18 men) – the Chinese held it against me – for finishing with this form of slavery.
“Imagine a boy of seven or eight working seven, eight hours a day.”
China’s last remaining hopes had been on the men’s parallel bars—Deng Shudi finishing fourth with world champion You Hao last in the eight-man final after a fall on his dismount.
A shocked Deng said he had an “empty brain” after his performance on Tuesday.
“I felt some pressure. I didn’t get to sleep until 2am or 3am. I just laid on my bed. I just don’t know what happened.”
Wang Yan finished fourth on the women’s floor on the final day, after Shang Chunsong just missed out on the all-around podium.
Fan Yilin finished sixth on the beam.
Liu Yang, the 2014 world rings champion, was tearful after finishing fourth on the apparatus.
“I will keep practicing and I am looking forward to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020,” Liu said. “Four of our team members are Olympic newcomers. It is inexperienced. Although we have not achieved the goal, we worked very hard as a team,” said Liu.
The Simone Biles-powered Americans topped the table with 12 medals—four gold, six silver and two bronze—their best showing since 1984 Los Angeles when they got 16.
Even in trampoline, China’s Dong Dong lost his title and Canada’s Rosie Maclennan again shut the Chinese women out in the women’s event. AFP