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Page last updated at 05:46 GMT, Friday, 15 August 2008 06:46 UK

Liukin secures gold in all-around

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Video - Lukin beats Johnson to gymnastics gold

Nastia Liukin of the United States won Olympic gold in the women's all-around gymnastics, narrowly defeating friend and team-mate Shawn Johnson.

Liukin, 18, was superb in all four disciplines and finished with 63.325 points, 0.6 of ahead of Johnson.

China had won gold in both team events, while Yang Wei won the men's title, but the host nation had to settle for Yang Yilin taking bronze.

Great Britain's Becky Downie finished 12th with 59.450 points.

The 16-year-old scored 59.450 to achieve the best placing yet by a British gymnast in an individual all-round final at an Olympic Games, beating the 19th achieved by Beth Tweddle in Athens four years ago.

606: DEBATE

"I'm really happy," said Downie. "I couldn't have hoped for much better. It went really well today."

"I was aiming to get into the top 24 and make the final. I knew it was possible.

"I only just qualified, but I pushed myself up the rankings today. Everything went really well today. I just wanted to do my best and enjoy it."

Johnson was the last athlete to perform, knowing that she needed 16.125 to defeat Liukin as she stepped out on to the floor.

Liukin clapped encouragingly during the routine and the two gymnasts watched together as they waited for Johnson's final marks to arrive.

The 16.000-point barrier had not been broken on the floor at the Olympics and the 16-year-old reigning world champion was awarded 15.525 for her routine.

Johnson had defeated Luikin at the US championships and Olympic trials a few weeks ago and has fared the better of the two rivals, who are generally regarded as the world's top two competitors.

Luikin's father, Valeri, is her coach and was a double gold medallist for the Soviet Union at the 1988 Olympics.

Afterwards he said: "It is not possible to describe how proud I am feeling. It is just an amazing feeling."

Liukin becomes the second consecutive American to win the all-around crown after training partner Carly Patterson's victory in Athens four years ago.

Romania's Steliana Nistor led after the first of four rounds, with Johnson 0.1 points behind.

Yang overtook them both, scoring 16.725 on the uneven bars to leap from fifth place to first with a wafer-thin 0.15 point lead at the half-way point ahead of Luikin.

The American moved into the lead after the balance beam, an apparatus on which she is world champion, scoring 16.125 to go ahead 0.15 points.

Yang, then in second place after scoring 15.75 on the beam, scored 15.0 after a stumble during her floor exercise and had to settle for bronze.

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Video - GB's Downie finishes in top 12




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Monday, 18 August 2008 15:37 UK
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see also
Olympics blog
07 Aug 08 |  Olympics
Beijing 2008
14 Feb 08 |  Olympics
On-song Yang takes gymnastic gold
14 Aug 08 |  Gymnastics
Bounce away with our trampoline guide
10 Aug 04 |  Other Sport


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