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By Steve Keating
TOKYO (Reuters) - Shut out of the gold medals at the 2016 Rio Games, trampoline powerhouse China will be looking for a bounce back with a return to the top of podium at the Tokyo Olympics when competition begins on Friday
With a record total of 11 Olympic medals, including three golds, China has dominated trampoline gymnastics at both the Games and the world championships where the men have grabbed every gold since 2007 while the women have won five of the last nine titles.
But in Rio Belarusian Uladzislau Hancharou took gold, pushing Dong Dong, champion at both the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games, into silver position and his compatriot Gao Lei, winner of the last four world titles, into bronze.
On the women's side, Canada's Rosie MacLennan has blocked her rivals from top spot at the last two Olympics, leaving China to settle for a silver and two bronzes.
Hancharou is back to try to defend his Olympic title, while Dong and Gao are seeking revenge.
MacLennan also returns to Tokyo, with the 32-year-old bidding for an unprecedented third title.
Since trampoline became part of the programme at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Canada has won medals at every Games.
At an Olympics where athlete mental health has been much discussed, MacLennan has been public about her struggles with anxiety but said her past accomplishments would not weigh on her.
"Those are results in the past, and I am really proud of what I was able to accomplish," said MacLennan, a four-time Olympian. "But here I am one of 16 competitors really going in trying to show what we are capable of.
"It's a really strong field, so I'm going to do the best that I can."
Britain's Bryony Page, silver medallist in Rio, and Japan's reigning world champion Hiraru Mori should also be in the medal hunt.
Page said the year's delay to the Games because of COVID-19 had given her time to recover from injuries that kept her from competing for two years after Rio.
Mori could deliver Japan's first-ever medal in Olympic trampoline, adding to a productive Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre where the hosts have already picked up a gold for Daiki Hashimoto in the men's artistic all-around and a silver in the men's team.
"The charm of trampoline is the sensations you get up there can't be savoured on the ground," said Mori. "I think there's more tension than a lot of other sports and that comes through to the spectators."
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Tokyo, additional reporting by Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber, Elaine Lies. Editing by Clare Fallon)