China rebounded from an awful qualifying day to win the men’s team title at the world gymnastics championships by the largest margin in 15 years. The U.S. placed fifth, extending its medal drought since earning bronze in 2014.
In qualifying, China, which owns the most team titles in history, had eight falls among its 18 routines that it would use in the final. But the Chinese were in no danger of missing the eight-team final. They qualified in fourth place, and scores are reset after qualifying.
They prevailed among an error-filled field in Wednesday’s final in Liverpool, England, led by Zhang Boheng, who goes for a repeat world all-around title on Friday.
The Chinese totaled 257.858 points, distancing longtime rival Japan by 4.463. It marked the largest margin of victory in the event since the 2007 Worlds. Before Wednesday, the four most recent world men’s team titles, plus the Tokyo Olympics, were decided by less than a point.
The absence of Russian gymnasts who won the Olympic title — and are now banned due to the war in Ukraine — opened up a podium spot behind China and Japan.
Great Britain emerged from the rubble of fall-heavy teams to earn bronze over Italy, despite not having its biggest star over the last decade, Max Whitlock. The two-time Olympic pommel horse gold medalist has been on a break since Tokyo.
The U.S., which qualified third into the final, had major errors on pommel horse, high bar and floor exercise that cost the team a medal. The Americans, who also finished fifth at the Tokyo Olympics, are in their longest medal drought since missing the podium at every Olympics and worlds between 1985 and 2000.
Worlds continue Thursday with the women’s all-around final (2:50 p.m. ET, Peacock). Rebeca Andrade is favored to become the first Brazilian to win a world all-around title. Americans Shilese Jones and Jade Carey are also medal contenders.
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