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Big blow for Belarus

Anaheim (California): Holders Belarus looked to have lost all hope of successfully defending their men’s team title in the world gymnastics championships after a bad injury to one of their top competitors on Saturday.

Dimitri Kasparovich crashed on his final tumbling sequence during the floor exercises and crawled off the mat. He was found to have torn his Achilles tendon and will need surgery, according to teammate Ivan Ivankov.

Kasparovich’s absence badly hit Belarus, who were ranked seventh after their tests.

But with top teams such as China, the United States, France and Ukraine to compete later, it looked unlikely that the defending champions would claim one of the eight places for the final.

The top 12 men’s and women’s teams will gain a berth in next year’s Athens Olympics.

“Kasparovich was supposed to be in the final on vault and floor exercise,” Ivankov said.

Japan took the lead with 227.046 points ahead of Romania (224.770), Russia (223.380). Canada, Spain, Germany, Belarus and Cuba rounded off the top eight.

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