STUTTGART, Germany, Oct 4 (Xinhua) -- Cheered by an energetic crowd the Chinese women's team grabbed an early lead (169.161 points) at the halfway point of qualification of the 2019 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships here on Friday.
With first competitions on schedule 2018 balance beam world champion Liu Tingting (55.865) settled in second behind France's Melanie de Jesus dos Santos. De Jesus dos Santos is the reigning European All-around champion.
Competing in the sixth and final subdivision of qualification, the Chinese team confidently charged to first place with only one missed routine out of 16. The team gained the top totals on uneven bars, and on balance beam, where they earned the top three scores.
Li anchored the Chinese beam line-up with a top score of 14.500, narrowly ahead of teammate Liu Shijia. Another first-year senior, Qi Qi is currently ranked third on vault, where she averaged 14.599 for a layout Rudi and double-twisting Yurchenko.
Liu told Xinhua she is highly satisfied with the teams' general performance and has overcome tiny troubles on uneven bars from a few days ago in training.
"I hope to keep the form over the following days and gain further improvement for the finals," Liu said she had felt "a bit nervous on balance beam because I was the first one of my team to compete."
It the end she found enough patience to finish her moves one by one.
A spirited French squad hit 16 of 16 routines to post a team total of 166.713 enqueuing on second position behind China. The team had the top totals on vault and floor exercise and were second to China on the other two events.
The German team (161.897) delighted an enthusiastic home crowd in the third subdivision ending up as fourth of the standings behind Canada (162.922).
Women's qualification is continued on Saturday, with defending champion United States joining the competition in the final subdivision.
At stake are spots in team, All-around and event finals, as well as coveted Olympic berths for team and individuals.