Olympic Stars - Yang Wei
Back-to-back world champion gymnast Yang Wei needs to get over his Athens nightmare to finally claim Olympic gold.
By Paul Higham
Last Updated: 07/08/08 1:42pm
China's star gymnast Yang Wei feels he has a lot to make up for after a fall in Athens cost him the chance of landing all-round Olympic gold - and he will want to make no mistake this time in front of his home fans.
The current all-round World Champion seemed set to hand China the all-round gold they craved as he led Paul Hamm after a fall on the vault by the American.
However, Yang suffered a dramatic fall off the high bar which handed the American the gold in a thrilling climax - and it also meant the Chinese star fell out of the medal places altogether.
To make matters worse, defending team champions China also slipped out of medal contention - meaning that there is a lot to make up for in Beijing for the home gymnasts.
Yang also lost out to Hamm in another close-fought battle at the 2003 World Championships in America, but Hamm has been forced out of a third clash in Beijing this time around, meaning the door is wide open for Yang to find redemption.
28-year-old Yang certainly has the ability, as he showed at the start of his winning streak, taking gold on the floor at the Asian Games in 1998.
A team gold in the 1999 World Championships came with a bronze on the high bar - and that set Yang up nicely to collect a silver in the all-round competition in Sydney at the Olympics the following year.
Yang's display helped China take team Olympic gold and it put him on the map as one of the best all-round gymnasts around.
The powerful Chinese team took World Championship gold again in 2003 despite Yang just missing out on individual gold against Hamm.
Although Athens was a disaster for both Yang and his team, they both bounced back in style at the 2006 World Championships in Aarhus with yet another team gold and not only an all-round title for Yang but a parallel bars gold too for their superstar.
Back-to-back team and all-round golds for Yang and China in Stuttgart last year have put both him and the team back at the top in good time for their home Olympics.
Yang's all-round gold came even despite another spectacular fall from the high bars, and he will need to cut out any repeat of that if he is to this time grab the beloved Olympic title he yearns for.
With recent form on his side, a strong Chinese team to back him up, and a vociferous home crowd backing him all the way, Yang will be a hard man to stop and a solid bet for the all-round gymastics gold.