Sun, Sep 09, 2007 - Page 23 News List

Rising star gives US second gold at world championship meet

AFP , STUTTGART, GERMANY

Yang Wei of China competes on the horizontal bar during the men's individual all-around final at the World Gymnastics Championships on Friday in Stuttgart, Germany. Yang won the gold medal in the event.

PHOTO: AFP

Rising star US Shawn Johnson helped the US match next year's Olympic hosts with a second gold medal at the World Gymnastics Championships on Friday.

The 15-year-old from the US set herself up as one of the favorites for the Beijing Games by adding the women's all-around title to the team gold she won earlier this week.

"I'm in a state of dreaming right now. It might put a little bit of pressure [for the Olympics] but I love it, honestly," she said.

"I love the crowd, love being favorite," she said. "It makes you want to do even better. It's definitely a motivator for next year. It will be a challenge."

Johnson achieved the highest scores on two or her four rotations -- floor and beam -- meaning that she could be in for more gold medals when she competes in these apparatus finals at the weekend.

She finished 1.250 ahead of Romania's Steliana Nistor, who added silver to the team bronze she won earlier in the week.

Defending champion Vanessa Ferrari of Italy came back from a fall off uneven bars to share bronze with Jade Barbosa, who achieved a first all-around medal for Brazil.

China had come to the world championships hoping to impress in the run-up to the Beijing games.

But after losing their team title earlier in the week, China's Yang Yilin and Xiao Sha placed sixth and seventh respectively in the women's all-around.

Yang Wei, 27, survived a now familiar tumble from the high bar to win the men's all-around after also helping China to a record-equalling eighth team crown.

Yang said that the team hopes to win more gold medals over the weekend, with 10 more titles up for grabs.

"The team and the all-around gold medals are the most important for me and I hope this will inspire the Chinese team to get more and more gold medals," Yang said.

The veteran had looked to be coasting to victory, scoring highest in three of the six events -- the pommel horse, rings and parallel bars.

But despite taking a comfortable 3.550-lead onto the final event, Yang's tumble meant he achieved the second lowest mark of just 13.600.

His lead was however enough to secure a 1.475-point victory over Fabian Hambuechen, last year's bronze medalist, who took Germany's first all-around silver largely thanks to his acrobatics, which gave him 16.050 on the high bar.

Yang admitted that he had known that given his high bar history -- he lost out on the 2004 Olympic title because of a similar fall -- he would have to get a good start.

"The competition is not just about one apparatus. I knew that I needed to get a good start," he said after achieving his seventh world title.

"It's not a surprise [that I won]," he said.

"I was a little nervous going onto the high bar, but this will help me to prepare for Beijing," he said. "You have got to have a lot of confidence."

Japan's Hisashi Mizutori took bronze as his teammate Hiroyuki Tomita, the 2005 champion and last year's runner-up, dropped to 12th after capping a bad day with a fall from the high bar.

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