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Russia wins group rhythmic gymnastics gold

August 24, 2008 12:03 IST

Russia [Images] won their third successive Olympic rhythmic gymnastics group gold with two dynamic and intricately choreographed routines on Sunday.

Their flawless exhibition of agility and dexterity earned them 35.550 points, 0.325 more than surprise silver medallists China. Belarus took the bronze.

"We are simply overwhelmed by emotions," Elena Posevina, who was also part of Russia's 2004 gold-winning team, told a news conference.

"It took a lot of training, it's been a long road. We have yet to fully comprehend the significance of this gold."

While world champions Russia were always expected to win, the real shock was China's classy display to claim silver and become the first non-European team to win a group medal in the discipline.

"The silver medal is unexpected. It means that all our efforts paid off," China's Zhang Shuo said. "This is the most glorious day for rhythmic gymnastics in China."

Russia led after their first routine, an exciting series of jumps and pivots using five ropes to the frenzied beat of one of the best known Russian tunes, "Kalinka", which earned 17.750.

They followed it up with the top score of the day of 17.800 for a beautiful display of synchronized pirouettes and innovative throws of their clubs and hoops.

The victory underlined their dominance in the discipline and followed Russian Evgeniya Kanaeva's gold in the individual all-around event on Saturday.

China drew the biggest cheers of the day, having upset the odds to outclass the likes of Athens silver and bronze medallists Italy [Images] (fourth) and Bulgaria (fifth).

The Olympic hosts had finished ninth at the last world championships but sounded a warning to their rivals in Beijing [Images] when they qualified in third place for the eight-team final.

They were third after the first routine but then edged ahead of Belarus with a theatrical hoop and club routine to the aptly named "Peking Opera" to capitalize on a mistake by their rivals.

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