The Chinese men took their fourth consecutive World Gymnastics Championship title with ease today, and defending champion Romania won a thrilling battle with Russia for the women's crown.
The Americans finished last in both six-team competitions.
China finished with 230.395 points. Russia, the 1996 Olympic winner over China, took silver with 228.145, with Belarus third at 227.631. The U.S. team's 225.196 placed them sixth behind Japan and South Korea.
While the Chinese men never looked threatened, the women's competition went to the wire. After performing two of the highest-scoring maneuvers of the day, Russia's Svetlana Khorkina could have clinched gold for the Russians with a 9.5 on the balance beam. But she fell and scored a 9.075.
Romania finished with 153.527, while Russia had 153.209. China was third with 152.423. The U.S. team finished with 150.213, behind Ukraine and Australia.
The Americans complained that the judges underscored them. "We should have done a better job but there's no way that we were the sixth team out there," Coach Kelly Hill said. "There needs to be somebody overruling the judges so that the judges are doing their jobs. Nobody seems to be keeping track of them."
The Americans had other problems, too. Jeanette Antolin had a long wait while the public address system crew initially played the wrong music for her floor exercise. Kristen Maloney's music stopped too soon. Coach Donna Strauss said it seemed as if competition organizers were trying to rattle the U.S. team.
Maloney, the U.S. national champion, said the boisterous and mostly Chinese crowd also was a distraction.