Russia grabbed their first men’s team gold at the World gymnastics championships after China’s Sun Wei fell off the high bars in the closing routines on Wednesday.
Russia finished with a huge score of 261.726, with China second on 260.729. Japan were third, just over 2.5 behind China but more than 3.5 ahead of the United States. Great Britain were fifth.
It was Russia’s first world team title, although the Soviet Union collected the last of its eight golds in 1991.
Less than a year before the Tokyo Olympics, Russia also took revenge for a narrow defeat at last year’s worlds in Doha, when China won by 0.049 of a point.
“I can finally sleep! The defeat to China stopped me from sleeping,” Russia’s Artur Dalaloyan said.
“It left us with a very bad memory but it motivated us to work harder, to improve,” he added.
China, Russia and Japan had exchanged the lead as the teams rotated through the six different elements.
China seemed to have seized control on their penultimate challenge, the parallel bars.
Their third and final man on the apparatus, Zou Jingyuan, delivered an imaginative and technically perfect routine to score a huge 16.383, by far the highest mark by any man in any discipline all afternoon. The second best was the 15.3 by Russian Nikita Nagornyy, also on the bars.
Zou’s score also gave his team a total of 45.141 on the bars, the most by any of the eight finalists in any discipline.
That meant China led Russia by 1.4 points going into the last routine, when the two nations met at the high bars for a final showdown.
Japan meanwhile finished with the floor exercises and a series of errors ended their chances of finishing in the top two.
As China went first, Sun immediately handed the initiative back to Russia as he slid off the bar to finish with just 12.766.
Even though the last Chinese competitor Lin Chaopan scored 14.5, the final Russian Nagornyy held his nerve and scored 14.46.
As the top two teams embraced, Sun turned away and covered his face with his hands.