January 10, 2009

Jiang Yuyuan: "Could I Have More Than One Wish?"

The other day we posted an interview with Cheng Fei. Now it's Jiang Yuyuan's turn to answer a few questions, and she does so in her customary fun-loving and mischievous way...

The story below was cobbled together from three sources: Sohu, Sina, and QQ. Enjoy!

(photo: Al Bello/Getty Images)

On December 26, Jiang Yuyuan traveled to the city of Hangzhou to attend a banquet commemorating 50 years of gymnastics in Zhejiang Province. (A native of Guangxi Province, Jiang was recruited to the Zhejiang team in 1999.) Other eminent guests included China’s National Team head coach Lu Shanzhen, 2008 Olympic alternate He Ning, 2002 World Cup beam champion Sun Xiaojiao, Sang Lan, and 1990 World Cup beam champion Yang Bo.

From the moment Jiang Yuyuan entered the banquet hall, she was surrounded by autograph seekers and those hoping to pose for a photo with the Olympic champion. Unfazed by the crowd, “Yuanyuan” smiled non-stop as she interacted with each fan, but occasionally, her youthfulness came to the surface.

When asked about Christmas, Yuanyuan gave a typical teenager’s response: “What kind of Christmas did we have? We had practice! But that day, a few kids from Hong Kong came to the training hall.”

“Were they your fans?”

“They were just passing through. They gave me a few gifts. But the little kids brought some things to eat.”

“Were there any fun gifts?”

“Little zipper pulls, plus some cotton candy. Believe it or not, but it was Hello Kitty cotton candy!” Yuanyuan seemed particularly happy at the thought of this small gift, which brought a little joy to an otherwise tedious Christmas.

Yep, we can see how Jiang Yuyuan might be a Hello Kitty fan...

“You look so thin,” a reporter said. “How much do you weigh?”

“I’m not going to tell you. That’s a girl’s secret!”

“I hear that you’re going to film a commercial when you get back to Beijing. Is that true?”

“That’s right.” Yuanyuan went on to explain that after the Olympics, she and several other teammates had posed for Marie Claire magazine. “It’s a shame we don’t get many opportunities like that. Plus, the clothes weren’t very nice. We had some better-looking outfits.” The style-conscious Jiang Yuyuan learned how to use make-up when she was just five years old and enjoys browsing through fashion magazines like Rayli and Xinwei as often as she can.

Most desirable New Year’s gift: A few days’ rest

After the Olympics, Yuanyuan participated in several competitions and placed first on more than one occasion. Asked to assess her performances, she said with a shrug: “So-so [she used the English expression]. I always felt a little disappointed, and felt I could have done even better.” Ever seeking perfection, Yuanyuan has never had a completely satisfactory day. “I’ve never earned 100 points in a competition. I’d give myself a 90 [for 2008]. I most regret my poor performance on vault at the Olympics. The performance I’m most satisfied with was the one at the national championships in Qingdao following the Olympics, where I did very well on floor exercise.”

Jiang botched vault in Beijing (photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Having completed her busy competition schedule, Yuanyuan still has to prepare for winter training. “After the Olympics, I never stopped. I’d really like to have some fun now, but where am I to find the time?”

“What is your wish for the New Year?”

This question seemed to perplex the Olympic champion. “Could I have more than one wish?” Yuanyuan asked mischievously. “First, I’d like to know how many days of rest we get at New Year’s.” Although she won’t be able to go home for the holiday, she’d like a few extra days of rest because the last few months have been so busy.

“OK. Your second wish?”

“After the fun, I’ll be ready to train systematically!” Yuanyuan nodded vigorously.

In the coming year, Jiang Yuyuan’s biggest wish is to win the all-around competition at the National Games. “I need systematic training. How else could I become champion?”

In order to achieve her goal, Yuanyuan says she needs to work harder in the upcoming winter training. “I need to increase my difficulty everywhere. My beam is a bit better, but I need to up the difficulty on all my other events, but I still don’t know exactly how much.”

(photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Since making her senior debut at the Shanghai World Cup in July 2007, Yuanyuan has seized every opportunity to prove her ability. At next year’s National Games, she will emerge for the first time as the “Elder Sister of Zhejiang,” although Jiang herself resists the title. As she pointed out with an embarrassed smile, “He Ning is older than I am, and more experienced.”

Nonetheless, she is very clear about her goals for the National Games. “First and foremost, I want to win the all-around. As for the other events, we’ll see. If I have the opportunity, I’ll try my hardest to win them, too.”

We have no doubt she will.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. As big as the win for the Chinese team in Beijing was, I can only imagine that they have not slowed down one bit in their training. I know their National Games is a very big deal.

    I think Jiang winning the National Games would be a good step towards her becoming more of an AA threat in the international scene.

  3. I love the third picture - it's so hard core.

    And I've always admired the Chinese gymnasts for their tenacity.

  4. She seems immature. Which is fine. She will change. I just wonder if it is her age, the delay in puberty from training, or some genetics that makes her a late bloomer.

  5. She doesn't sound or act immature to me. What she has is a personality!

    She sounds like a normal, Chinese teenager, as much as Shawn sounds like a normal, American teenager.

  6. I have to say that in her interview she did sound like a normal 16 year old girl (being one myself, though she's 17 now I think). Nice to see a gymnast with personality! She's like China's A-Sac in that she answers the questions honestly.
    Good to see she's ambitious about the National Games AA, though even if she stuck her Amanar (which would potentially get her another whole point) she'd do well to make up the difference with Yang Yilin.

  7. TCO, we agree with the people who say Jiang sounds like a normal Chinese 16-year-old. So what if she's a little immature? She's meant to be at her age. She's playful and charming and we like that!

    becauseofitall, are you sure you don't mean the fourth picture? That's pretty hardcore, we think.

  8. Ahaha, yes I mean the fourth picture.

  9. Sounds like the don't give her much time to relax . Geez she is an Olympic Champion . Let her go home to spend time with family .

    She is a great gymnast though .

  10. cool what a life, non stop traning and no time 4 friends and family!!1

    but hey it all pays off- olyimpic champion theres nothing better than that.

    great gymnast hope she competing at 2012

  11. Jiang is such a fab gymnast - one of my best including Deng linlin and Yang. jiang sounds like a nice girl and so glad she has made it so good in the gymnast world. Got told she skived training though- typical tennager repul!!!*****

  12. She's an amazing gymnast with such a unique style, and I hope she wins the all-around. She's my favorite gymnast and I hope she'll get a chance to relax sometime. By the way, she's not immature, she's got personality. Jiang Yuyuan, you're who made me obsessed with gymnastics and you rock!