Liukin leads U.S. to gold rush in World Championships

Sep 9, 2007 - 5:40 PM Special to PA SportsTicker

STUTTGART, Germany (Ticker) - Nastia Liukin led the way in a golden finale for the United States' women, who took two of the five gold medals up for grabs on the final day of the World Gymnastics Championships on Sunday.

Liukin won gold in the beam final to equal the national record medal haul at world level of Shannon Miller, while compatriot Shawn Johnson added another gold in the floor final.

Miller claimed nine medals in her career at world level and Liukin matched that mark by topping the podium in the apparatus, where she won gold in 2005.

Liukin's routine contained a wolf jump and a two-and-a-half twist dismount and she was rewarded with marks of 16.025.

Li Shanshan, of China, shared second place with Steliana Nistor, of Romania. Both recorded 15.900 and won silver medals.

Johnson is be only 15 but she pipped countrywoman Alicia Sacramone to the gold on the floor, with France's Cassy Vericel getting the bronze.

It was not a flawless performance by Johnson, who stepped out of bounds after her opening double-double, but the exacting nature of the routine won over the judges and earned her a third gold of the championships.

Her other golds came in the team competition and the all-round categories.

Sacramone won over the crowd with some imaginative choreography and a double-tucked Arabian was the highlight of her display.

Poland's Leszek Blanik won the gold in the men's vault, earning average marks of 16.512 for his handspring double-somersault forward piked, now named a Blanik, and then a Tsukahara, a double somersault backwards piked.

Daniel Popescu took silver with a mark of 16.500, while North Korea's Ri Se Gwang claimed the bronze with 16.387.

Slovenia's Mitja Petkovsek and South Korea's Kim Dae Eun shared the gold medal in the men's parallel bars with scores of 16.250 with Anton Fokin of Uzbekistan taking bronze.

Yang Wei had a rare off day for China with a poor half-turn on a shoot-up contributing to his sixth-placed finish.

There was a fairytale end to the championships as hosts Germany claimed a gold with Fabian Hambuchen triumphing in the men's high bar.

His routine was full of tricks with a Kolman, Stalder, Markelov and a lay-out Tkatchev before a lay-out full-in dismount.

Aljaz Pegan of Slovenia took the silver and Hisashi Mizutori claimed the bronze for Japan.

America's golden last day was not quite enough to knock China off the top of the medal table with the world's most populous nation ending with five titles, one more than the U.S.

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