Mitchell, Bouhail make gymnastics history

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands — Australia's Lauren Mitchell and France's Thomas Bouhail made history as China topped the medals table on the final day of the world gymnastics championships here.

Mitchell became the first Australian woman to win a world title as Bouhail gave France their first gold in modern gymnastics.

Zhang Chenglong and Feng Zhe added to China's haul by claiming two more titles to bring their total to four gold, but the tally was far from the nine achieved at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Nevertheless, Chinese coach Wang Hongwei expressed his satisfaction at the outcome as they build towards the 2012 London Games.

"We're very satisfied with this result because the older members of the team are now gone," said Wang. "We have new ones coming through and we're in a transition period now."

Zhang, 21, took gold on the horizontal bar while Feng, 23, won the parallel bars. They also helped China to team gold with Chen Yibing winning gold on the rings, as in total the Chinese men went home with six medals.

Their women's team had less success, with three medals - the team bronze, Jiang Yuyan's all-around silver, and Deng Linlin's silver on the beam.

Mitchell, 19, stole the show on the floor as Russian star Aliya Mustafina shared silver with Romania's Diana Maria Chelaru.

"I've been pushing and pushing and pushing and finally I've got it," said Mitchell, runner-up on both the floor and beam at last year's worlds.

"It's the first time for a woman so it's pretty amazing."

Mustafina, 16, was the most successful female competitor with all-around and team gold and three silver medals - floor, uneven bars and vault.

A fall off the beam cost her a medal on that apparatus as Ana Porgras put Romania back on the top of a women's world podium for the first time in nine years. Defending vault champion Deng shared silver with American Rebecca Bross.

Mustafina accounted for five of Russia's six medals, which put them second to China on the medals table.

Bouhail gave France their first gold at the worlds since 1913 when the Olympic silver medallist won the vault ahead of Russia's Anton Golotsutskov with Dzmitry Kaspiarovich of Belarus.

The victory was sweet for Bouhail, who tied Poland's Leszek Blanik for first place in the 2008 Olympic final but was dropped to second by a tie-breaker.

The final competitor on the nine-day competition, Zhang pulled out an acrobatic routine to score 16.166 points, to disappoint the capacity crowd who had been vocal in their support of Dutch gymnast Epke Zonderland.

Zonderland had competed first but his score of 16.033 ensured he took silver for the second straight year as former champion Fabian Hambuechen of Germany took bronze with 15.966.

Earlier, Feng, last year's parallel bars silver medallist, took that title by a 0.150 margin on teammate Teng Haibin with the bronze going to Japan's all-around champion Kohei Uchimura.

Uchimura, 21, brought his medals tally here to four after defending his all-around title, and winning silver in the team and floor events.