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Dong Fangxiao and Yang Yun dropped out of the sky (Part 2)…

When the 2000 Olympic Games rolled around, China showed up to Sydney, Australia with four of the members of the 1999 bronze medal world team:

Liu Xiuan was again the team’s most experienced veteran.

Ling Jie, who won gold on beam and bronze on bars at the 1999 worlds, was ready to contend for Olympic gold on her specialties.

Dong Fangxiao, the highest all-around finisher in 1999 and world finalist on beam and floor, was a serious contender for several Olympic medals.

Huang Mandan, who nearly beat Khorkina on bars at the 1999 worlds and finished 7th in the all-around, made the squad as well.

And then there were two surprises.

Kui Yuanyuan, 1996 co-world floor champion, 1996 Olympian, and 1997 world beam medalist, was back on the Chinese team.

A virtually unknown gymnast named Yang Yun was one of the six, and amazingly appeared to be the most poised, confident, and impressive gymnast on the team.  Who was she?

Try looking up YouTube videos of Yang Yun prior to 2000.  You’ll won’t find any, because they aren’t there.

Just as Dong Fangxiao had seemingly come out of thin air in 1999, Yang Yun’s presence on the 2000 team was intriguing to say the least.  Not only was she a dynamite gymnast, but her bright smile and overall level of confidence was stunning, particularly considering it was her first appearance on the world stage.

During the first day of competition, Yang sizzled through four events and found herself in 6th place in the all-around – even with a much lower vault score than she was capable of – and qualified for a stunning three event finals – bars, beam, and floor (though Liu Xuan and Ling Jie were used ahead of her on beam because of the two-per-country rule).

Here’s a look at her routines from the team final, where her team won the bronze:

Yang Yun Vault 2000 Olympics Team Final

Dong Fangxiao and Yang Yun dropped out of the sky (Part 2)…

JAN24

Written by: Andy Thornton
Sunday, January 24, 2010 12:47 PM

Dong Fangxiao and Yang Yun dropped out of the sky (Part 2)…

When the 2000 Olympic Games rolled around, China showed up to Sydney, Australia with four of the members of the 1999 bronze medal world team:

Liu Xiuan was again the team’s most experienced veteran.

Ling Jie, who won gold on beam and bronze on bars at the 1999 worlds, was ready to contend for Olympic gold on her specialties.

Dong Fangxiao, the highest all-around finisher in 1999 and world finalist on beam and floor, was a serious contender for several Olympic medals.

Huang Mandan, who nearly beat Khorkina on bars at the 1999 worlds and finished 7th in the all-around, made the squad as well.

And then there were two surprises.

Kui Yuanyuan, 1996 co-world floor champion, 1996 Olympian, and 1997 world beam medalist, was back on the Chinese team.

A virtually unknown gymnast named Yang Yun was one of the six, and amazingly appeared to be the most poised, confident, and impressive gymnast on the team.  Who was she?

Try looking up YouTube videos of Yang Yun prior to 2000.  You’ll won’t find any, because they aren’t there.

Just as Dong Fangxiao had seemingly come out of thin air in 1999, Yang Yun’s presence on the 2000 team was intriguing to say the least.  Not only was she a dynamite gymnast, but her bright smile and overall level of confidence was stunning, particularly considering it was her first appearance on the world stage.

During the first day of competition, Yang sizzled through four events and found herself in 6th place in the all-around – even with a much lower vault score than she was capable of – and qualified for a stunning three event finals – bars, beam, and floor (though Liu Xuan and Ling Jie were used ahead of her on beam because of the two-per-country rule).

Here’s a look at her routines from the team final, where her team won the bronze:

Yang Yun Vault 2000 Olympics Team Final

Absolutely one of the most beautiful vaults of all time.  There has never been a gymnast in history to perform a handspring front layout or laid out Cuervo that looked anything like that.

Yang Yun Bars 2000 Olympics Team Final

Yang Yun Beam 2000 Olympics Team Final

Yang Yun Floor 2000 Olympics Team Final

Yang’s all-around during the team finals was an incredible 38.836, the second highest score behind Romania’s Andrea Raducan. If Yang Yun could hit all four events in the all-around finals, she was a serious threat for all-around gold.

And it almost happened.  In the all-around finals, Yang had very fluke fall on her layout-layout series on beam, and settled for 5th place.  If we added 0.5 to her all-around total of 38.305, Yang would have been the Olympic all-around champion.  Simona Amanar’s 38.642 ended up being good enough for gold (after Andrea Raducan’s 38.893 was removed because of her controversial positive drug test).

Yang Yun Beam 2000 Olympics All-Around

Yang did win the bronze medal on bars in the event final, with yet another gorgeous routine:

Yang Yun Bars 2000 Olympics Event Finals

Yang competed through 2001, though not at the same form as she showed in 2000.  She trained until 2003, but unfortunately retired after repeated fractures to her wrist.  In my opinion, she’ll go down as one of the best all-gymnasts ever, and her vault from the 2000 Olympics Team Final will remain one of the greatest vaults of all time.

Next, we’ll take a look at one rarely seen competition just prior to the 2000 Olympics in which both Dong Fangxiao and Yang Yun took part.