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Tang Chia-hung a step closer to Olympic spot after Cairo World Cup

02/19/2024 09:40 PM
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Taiwanese gymnast Tang Chia-hung (right) shows the gold medal he wins at the 2024 Apparatus World Cup series in Cairo with his coach Weng Shih-hang on Sunday. Photo courtesy Weng Shih-hang
Taiwanese gymnast Tang Chia-hung (right) shows the gold medal he wins at the 2024 Apparatus World Cup series in Cairo with his coach Weng Shih-hang on Sunday. Photo courtesy Weng Shih-hang

Taipei, Feb. 19 (CNA) Horizontal bar standout Tang Chia-hung (唐嘉鴻) secured gold in the men's event in the first leg of the 2024 Apparatus World Cup series in Cairo on Sunday, improving his chances of getting a spot in the event at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Tang took the top spot with a score of 14.500, scoring a 6.4 for degree of difficulty and 8.100 for execution, earning himself 30 ranking points in the race to qualify for the Paris games.

The final rankings will be based on the top three performances of a gymnast from the four legs of the World Cup competition series, according to the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).

"He [Tang] could have performed better, but he did well enough in terms of height and power to earn recognition from both judges and spectators, who reacted with several oohs and aahs during his routine," Weng Shih-hang (翁士航), Tang's coach, told CNA.

Winning the first leg of the World Cup series gave Tang a real confidence boost, Weng said, especially given that it was the first time he had attempted a routine with a 6.4 degree of difficulty at a formal competition since returning from a major injury a year ago.

Known as the "King of Cat" for his rendition of the Yamawaki move, which involves a backward giant swing, a half turn, a front flip over the bar, and a regrasp, Tang tore his Achilles tendon in February 2023 during a simulated competition at the National Sports Training Center.

The injury prevented him from competing for about seven months, causing him to miss the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Belgium and the Hangzhou Asian Games.

Tang secured a spot in the final of the Cairo event on Saturday when he finished sixth among 44 competitors in the men's high bar qualification round with a score of 14.033, included a relatively low degree of difficulty of 5.6.

That decision was made after some of his main challengers made mistakes in the qualification round, leading Tang to go with an easier routine to secure a berth in the final, Weng said, noting that the strategy proved successful in hindsight.

While Tang got off to a great start in his bid to make it to Paris, pommel horse silver medalist at the Tokyo Olympics Lee Chih-kai (李智凱) finished a disappointing 11th in the discipline with a score of 14.233 in the qualifying round.

Only the top eight in qualifying compete in the final round. Another Taiwanese, Shiao Yu-jan (蕭佑然), who finished fourth in the pommel horse at the Hangzhou Asian Games in 2023, placed 10th in the discipline in Cairo with a score of 14.266.

Meanwhile, Lai Pin-ju (賴品儒) bagged 16 ranking points on Sunday after finishing fifth in the women's balance beam with a score of 12.600.

The Taiwanese gymnasts will compete for more ranking points in Cottbus, Germany, from Feb. 22-25, before traveling to Baku, Azerbaijan, in March and Doha in mid-April to compete in the remaining legs of the 2024 Apparatus World Cup series.

According to the FIG's website, the two highest-ranked gymnasts per apparatus at the end of the series will earn a spot in the Paris Olympics.

(By Li Chien-chung and Chao Yen-hsiang)

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