Present Olympics Athletes >> Pang Panpan

Artistic Gymnastics

Pang Panpan

Known as

Pang Panpan

Date of birth

1988-06-07

Birthplace

Shijiazhuang

Height

151 cm

Weight

33.0 kg

Discipline

beam, floor

World Championships (1 medal - 1 gold)

  • Team event: 1st (2006)

Asian Games (1 medal - 1 silver)

  • Floor: 2nd (2006)

Chinese Icon

Coaches are working round the clock to physically and mentally prepare Pang Panpan for the 2008 Games for not only is she a true hope for the all-around gold in the gymnastics, but her sheer poise, precision elegance and style have the power to draw gasps from an audience.

Lapses in concentration have seen some disappointing falls in recent competition and she did not take part in the 2007 worlds, but this season, according to her coaches, is about getting the 'special one' ready for next year's main event.

Although she weighs in at a wafer thin 33kg, she packs a punch in all disciplines and was heading to a first major individual title in 2006 world championships before a faulty landing in the vault sent her spinning down the rankings.

She eventually settled for sixth while the gold went to Italian teenager Vanessa Ferrari.

While she is yet to fulfill her potential in terms of major individual medals, the 1.51m gymnast from Shijiazhuang is seen as a future star of the sport after shining in her country's run to the team gold at the same world championships in Aarhus.

It was the first time China had won the women's team title and much of their success was down to Pang.

Her gravity defying showings on the beam and uneven bars and a floor routine that could bring tears to a stone helped China overcome the American defending champions and Russia in a fiercely contested battle of wits and ability in Denmark.

Going through the pain barrier

Born in 1988, she took up the sport at 9 which is rare for the sport and her country where athletes are generally groomed from a much younger age.

After impressing in lower events she received the call from the elite national team at 14 and began training with the squad in early 2003.

Agile, flexible and graceful, Pang excels on the floor with her dazzling routines and is also a strong performer on the treacherous balance beam where she executes some daring split jumps.

Although she came unstuck at the 2006 worlds on the vault it is generally a strong apparatus for her while one of her rare weak points is on the uneven bars.

She had qualified for the world championships by becoming national all-around champion prior to Aarhus and also won the China title on the floor.

Incredibly shy, she often smiles bashfully when confronted by the world's media but she is also reinforced with blood and guts.

On one occasion during training, she badly grasped the bars and had the skin torn from her palm but instead of abandoning she continued on through the pain barrier before breaking down in tears at the end of her routine and leaving the bars stained with blood.

It is a sign of her determination and will-power, both qualities that will be desperately needed when the women get down to business in the fight for 2008 Olympic gold.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.



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