(Reuters) - China’s Olympic champion Chen Yibing has made an abrupt U-turn on his decision to retire from gymnastics after a surprise defeat in the men’s rings competition earlier this month.
Hot favorite to retain his Beijing title in the strongman event, Chen was beaten by Brazil’s Arthur Zanetti, in a stunning upset which triggered howls of protests from Chinese officials.
But Chen, sounding more conciliatory than after his galling London setback, has now decided to continue competing - perhaps even until he is 32, the China Daily reported.
“I won’t retire because of what I went through in London,” said the 27-year-old Tianjin native, who helped China defend their all-around team gold.
“I’ve invested myself in gymnastics for more than 20 years. I can’t just give it up.”
In the Olympic rings final, Chen was celebrating from the moment he dismounted, kissing his index finger, the metal frame of the apparatus and winking at the TV camera.
Zanetti, the final challenger, burst his bubble, however, despite stumbling on landing.
Chinese coaches and officials fumed at the Brazilian’s score, although Chen himself sounded more philosophical almost a month on from London.
”The referees’ judgment was disappointing,“ he said. ”But I saw all the spectators, my coach and even some opponents applaud to encourage me and I felt so relieved.
“I will for sure take part in next year’s world championships and the National Games,” added the four-times world champion.
“The 2017 National Games will be held in Tianjin. I might also compete in my home city then. I just want to have a good rest now.”
Chen will have knee surgery in October before resuming full training.
Reporting by Alastair Himmer in Tokyo; Editing by Patrick Johnston