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China's Dong flips and twists to trampoline gold

Friday - 8/3/2012, 1:03pm  ET

By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer

LONDON (AP) - Chinese trampolinist Dong Dong made three wishes on New Year's Eve.

Go to London. Get the gold medal. Bring back the gold medal.

Consider all three checked off the list.

The 23-year-old Dong won the men's Olympic title on Friday, crisply putting together a dizzying series of flips and twists. He posted a score of 62.99 and easily won a gold to go with the bronze he won in Beijing four years ago.

Dmitry Ushakov of Russia was second. Defending Olympic champion Lu Chunlong of China was third.

Dong dominated the event, posting the top overall score in qualifying and beating Ushakov by more than a point in the finals.

"I was really looking forward to this competition," Dong said. "I don't think it's the result, but one stage of life. Don't judge a person on winning or losing."

Perhaps, but Dong was pretty fired up after giving China its second straight gold medal in the event, which was introduced at the Sydney Games in 2000. He pumped his fist as fans waving Chinese flags chanted his name.

"That is one of my dreams, to win this medal, and I am very happy," Dong said.

Competitors have up to a minute to warm up on the trampoline before attempting to complete 10 successive tricks, getting scores for difficulty, execution and air time. Athletes are about 30 feet in the air at the top of each jump. Imagine leaping off a three-story building 10 times in about 30 seconds and you get the idea.

The sport has been dominated by the Russians and the Chinese since its inception in the games, and Dong put on a clinic. Going last in the finals, he soared through his routine, drawing "oohs."

"During the final, he was really stronger," Ushakov said.

Other contenders weren't so fortunate. Yuriy Nikitin, the 2004 gold medalist, failed to make the finals after crashing during qualifying.

American Steve Gluckstein, who beat younger brother Jeffrey for the lone U.S. spot, finished last in the 16-man field after losing his line during his second routine. The 22-year-old from New Jersey only completed two of his 10 tricks before smacking into the pad.

He vowed to make a run at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. Dong might not be around.

"The greatest moment has gone, and I need to prepare myself for more challenges coming up," he said. "No matter if you win or lose, the most important thing in life is to enjoy what you have."


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)