China third as Tokyo prelims conclude.

TOKYO (JPN), FIG Office: The second day of men’s competition at the 43rd Artistic Gymnastics World Championships determined the qualifiers for the Finals in Tokyo’s (JPN) Metropolitan Gymnasium as well as the best eight teams, who would all earn direct qualification for the 2012 Olympic Games (Chen Yibing).

With the teams who performed on Sunday having set the bar high and competition among all teams being very close, the battle for the coveted top eight spots was fierce. In the end China, Russia and Korea joined Japan, USA, Germany, Romania and Ukraine in the exclusive group of direct Olympic qualifiers, who will also line up for the Team Final on Wednesday.

Ranking 9-16, the teams from France, Great Britain, Spain, Canada, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Italy and Belarus have the opportunity to qualify for the Games by finishing in the top four at the 2012 Olympic test event in January.

Though disappointed to have just missed out on eighth position, France celebrated the achievements of Cyril Tommasone on Pommel Horse, Thomas Bouhail on Vault and Yann Cucherat on Parallel Bars who will all advance to their respective event Finals at the weekend. Tommasone also qualified, in 12th place, for the All-around Final on Thursday.

Team Great Britain performed in the first session of the day and were devastated when they realised that, with Russia, Korea and China having moved into the top eight, they were out of the running. A bad start on Rings and a disastrous rotation on the Horizontal Bar cost them valuable points and, even though they fought back on both Vault and Floor, they were never able to fully recover. In particular the 2009 world runner-up Daniel Keatings, back after a knee injury in 2010, performed below expectations. Keatings fell on three events and failed to qualify for any Finals. However 2010 Silver medallist Louis Smith qualified in second place for the Pommel Horse Final and the consistent Daniel Purvis advanced to the All-around Final in fifth position.

The day’s winners, as expected, were China with their team of specialists who, with the sole exception of Guo Weiyang, all reached event Finals: Teng Haibin on Pommel Horse, Chen Yibing on Still Rings, Feng Zhe on Parallel Bars, and Zou Kai and Zhang Chenglong on the Horizontal Bar. In addition Teng, who was the only Chinese gymnast to perform in all six events today, qualified for the All-around Final. As reigning World Champions, Team China will expect to fight for this year’s top honours with hosts Japan.

Russia dominated sub-division seven today, impressing especially on the Vault where they had the best result of all the teams. With Emin Gabirov and David Belyavskiy, Russia will be represented in the All-around Final and Anton Golotsutskov vaults again for Russia in the Apparatus Final.

Vocally supported by their numerous fans in the arena and with an exemplary team spirit, Korea demonstrated their terrific talent and skill in the last session of qualifications. Making clear their determination to claim a spot among the top eight, they deservedly finished sixth tonight, their best event being the Pommel Horse with the third best team result. Seungil Kim and Soo Myun Kim advanced to the All-around Final and 2010 surprise finalist Hak Seon Yang also qualified in his speciality event.

Team Belarus secured the last spot for the test event, while 2008 Olympic finalist Dzmitry Kaspiarovich qualified for the Apparatus and Andrey Likhovitskiy for the All-around Final. Spain will have to prove themselves again at the test event, but will be represented in the All-around Final by Rafael Martinez.

Australia repeated their 18th rank of 2010 and therefore have no chance of qualifying their men’s team for London 2012. However Pommel Horse specialist Prashanth Sellathurai will compete in the event Final. And of the nations with no full teams in Tokyo, Israel qualified the Beijing finalist Alexander Shatilov today for the Floor and All-around Finals.

Kohei Uchimura of Japan, who topped the qualifications, reached an exceptional total of six individual Finals, namely Floor, Pommel Horse, Still Rings, Parallel Bars, Horizontal Bar and All-around, in the addition to the Team Final.

The Championships continue with the Women’s Team Final on Tuesday.

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