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Lu: China Performed at 70 Percent
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The Chinese women lead qualification at the Olympics in Beijing, but head coach Lu Shanzen rated their performance Sunday at 70 percent after a shocking fall on bars from He Kexin.

He, the gold medal favorite, slipped off uneven bars in the fourth rotation of Subdivision I, putting her chance of qualifying to the finals at risk.

"If I'm to give a grade for today's performance, I'd give it 70 percent," Lu said afterward. "Because one of our major goals today — [qualifying two top gymnasts] on uneven bars — is in limbo. Right now, our chances are no longer in our hands but depend entirely on how others perform later on in the day. Of course we'd much prefer to qualify based on our own absolute ability and not on relative ability compared to others, not have to depend on others underperforming... but problems arose on bars."

He's break on bars and Jiang Yuyuan's fall on vault were China's only two major breaks of the day. After three of four subdivisions, China leads the U.S. and Russia, and has the top score on every individual event. Cheng Fei on vault and floor exercise, Yang Yilin on uneven bars and Li Shanshan on balance beam. The top eight teams advance to Wednesday's team finals, and the top eight on each apparatus advance to the event finals Aug. 17-20.

"Our performance in the first two events, beam and floor, was great," Lu said. "Especially beam, the first event, was the one we'd worried the most about. But our gymnasts gave their maximum effort there. We put in a lot of preparation on that event ever since first hearing about the bad draw [of first subdivision, beam first]."

He, a double World Cup gold medalist, hit her difficult Li Ya combo (Jaeger-half to immediate Jaeger) and a layout Jaeger, but fell on her Pak salto after her Tkatchev. She scored 15.875 for a routine with a 7.5 A Panel score.

"It really is a pity," Lu said. "Especially since everything before the fall was superb and she'd already nailed the difficult parts of the routine. The part where she made the error was not a high difficulty component of her routine."

Lu blamed the fall on a lack of experience on the 16-year-old He's part, rather than Olympic-sized nerves.

"I don't think it's really nervousness in this case," he said. "In actual competition anything unexpected can happen. You've completed the high-difficulty parts of the routine, then on the minor, low-difficulty details problems can occur. I think it has to do with a lack of major competition experience."

Lu gave high marks to Deng Linlin, another newcomer who competed all four events.

"As a young gymnast, Deng Linlin gave a superb, complete performance today," he said. "She hit all three events we relied on her for and got the job done. On two events, floor and bars, she was the lead-off gymnast. Bars in particular were a major test for her because we didn't intend on putting up that many gymnasts for the event. Deng Linlin nailing her bars first up was critical to us today. Deng Linlin's bars and Li Shanshan's bars both won't be usable for team finals, but for preliminaries, because Deng as the lead-off gymnast hit her routine successfully, we could do without Li Shanshan going up on bars [as the fifth gymnast]. If Deng didn't succeed on bars, our later line-up would be affected and Li Shanshan would have to do bars."

Team veteran Cheng Fei, the only 2004 Olympian competing, was composed in leading the team, Lu said. He noted that Cheng, who had to compete her Yurchenko 2 1/2 immedately after Jiang's fall, was not rattled her teammate's mistake.

"I think it shows Cheng Fei has really matured," he said. "She didn't let those things affect her."

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