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Three-time Olympic champ Yang calls it a day

TRIPLE Olympic gold medallist Yang Wei, who led China's men to the team title at last year's Beijing Games, has announced his retirement from gymnastics.

The 29-year-old, who also won seven world titles and two Olympic silvers in an international career spanning 13 years, said injury had ended his hopes of taking part in the 11th National Games in October.

"It would have been more reasonable to retire at the peak of my career after the Olympics, but I decided to battle on for my home province Hubei at this year's National Games and started training at the beginning of the year," he told

"But I found I could not do as much as I would like to. Firstly because of injuries and secondly because of my age, it's much more difficult for me to recover from injuries than before. I have no plans for the immediate future."

The muscle-bound Yang's strength in all six gymnastics events made him an integral part of the China team and a contender for all-around gold at three Olympics. In Sydney in 2000 he finished up with silver and arrived in Athens four years later as one of the gold medal favorites.

Yang had the title within his grasp after Paul Hamm fell from the vault, but a fall of his own from the high bar meant he returned home empty-handed as China, the world champion, finished fifth in the team competition.

Given a chance of redemption in front of his compatriots at the National Indoor Stadium last August, however, Yang grabbed it with both hands and took all-around gold, led his team to the team title and snared a silver in the rings.

Sports school

Born in the central province of Hubei in 1980, Yang was already attending a sports school part time at the age of five. He graduated to the national team in 1996 at the age of 16 and three years later was a world champion as part of China's team success in Tianjin.

In Sydney the following year he became an Olympic champion, chipping in with the top score as China claimed its first team gold.

After his Athens disappointment, Yang missed the 2005 world championships but stormed back with five gold medals at the next two versions, including his only major title in an individual event on the parallel bars in Aarhus in 2006.

Yang married his long-term girlfriend Yang Yun, a bronze medallist in the uneven bars at the Sydney Games, last November in a lavish ceremony that drew some criticism from his compatriots.


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