Compulsory collapse for the Russians

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Leonid Arkaev, Russia's team manager, blamed himself for the dismal performance by his side - the pre-tournament favourites - in the men's team event on the third day of the World Championships at Sabae, Japan, yesterday.

Arkaev admitted his team now had very little chance of winning a medal. "They may have ignored the importance of the compulsories. I am ready to take responsibility for this as the delegation chief," he said.

Russia slumped to 11th place while Belarus, equally optimistic of gold, fared little better, lying eighth after last year's champion, Ivan Ivankov, fell during the horizontal bar exercise. However, Belarus were boosted by the performance of Vitaly Scherbo, winner of six Olympic golds in 1992. He registered a total 56.674 points, the third highest individual score. Russia's Evgeny Chabaev, who won the World Student Games overall individual title in August, scored 54.925.

After the completion of the compulsory section, Japan held on to their slim lead over the defending champions, China, with the United States third.