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Gymnast Profiles- Cheng Fei

I apologize to my loyal readers if I haven't been as on top of blogging lately. I'm in the middle of the holiday season and on top of that, I have just finished moving. Now that I'm all done moving and unpacking, I'm back with this week's Gymnast Profile: two-time Olympian and gold medal winning power gymnast, Cheng Fei.

Vital Statistics:
Date of Birth: May 29, 1988
Age: 24
Height: 4'8" (142 cm)
Birthplace :Huangshi, Hubei, China 
Hometown: Wuhan; Hubei
Coaches: Lu Shanzhen and Liu Quin Lin
Events Known For: Vault, Floor Exercise & Beam
Also Known For: Consistency, power, grace, leadership
                           Eponymous Skills: On Vault: round-off onto the spring board with a 1/2 turn on to the vaulting table laid out salto with 1 1/2 twists.

Two-time Olympian, Cheng Fei is a rarity among the Chinese. She's known for her work on the vault and floor exercise and by all means, is a power gymnast. She was a part of the 2008 Chinese Olympic team that took home team gold in Beijing. In addition to her powerful gymnastics, she's known for her sportsmanship and leadership abilities. Sandra Isbaza and Shawn Johnson have both praised Fei for her competitive spirit and consider her a friend.

Fei is the Chinese equivalent to American gymnast, Alicia Sacramone. They're both known for their work on power events like floor and vault and have been the leaders of their team in competition. In October 2011, at the World Championships in Tokyo, before the competition, Alicia ruptured her Achilles tendon practicing a tumbling pass on the floor. In June 2012, just a couple of months before the London Games, Fei ruptured her Achilles tendon also on the floor exercise thus ending her elite gymnastics career.

Fei comes from a working class family in China's Hubei province. Her family saw athletics as a chance for their daughter to have the opportunities they didn't have. At a young age, the family approached a gymnastics coach and Fei began practicing calisthenics at the age of three. At five, she won her first medal at a school  competition. By the age of seven, she was sent to  Wuhan and joined the Wuhan Institute of Physical Education and became a national team- member at the age of 13.

Fei made her Olympic debut in Athens 2004. The team did not medal. Individually, Fei qualified for the Floor exercise final, placing fourth in the competition. Despite not medaling in Athens, Fei became a two-time national champion on vault in 2003 and 2005 and floor 2004-05 and a beam national champion in 2004.

At the 2005 World Championships in Melbourne, Fei debuted the vault that is now synonymous with her, the "Cheng". This was the first time a woman had ever competed that vault before in an international competition. At the time, this was the most difficult vault ever attempted and successfully completed by a woman. Fei brought home the gold medal for her stellar performance.

The next year, in Aarhus, Fei helped the Chinese team secure the World Championship title, the first for the Chinese team. In addition to the team title, Fei added another vaulting and floor gold to her collection. In 2007, she gained yet another gold on vault.

In 2008, with the Chinese team competing on their home turf, Fei went into the Olympics as the captain of the Chinese team. With Fei at the helm, the Chinese team won their first Olympic Team title. Individually, she qualified for the vault, beam and floor finals. In the vault final, she was favored to win the gold, but a fall on her synonymous "Cheng" vault, putting her in third. She won the bronze over Alicia Sacramone, who competed two less difficult vaults, but competed them cleanly. She'd qualified in first for the beam final, but wound up receiving the bronze medal for that event and then placed seventh in the floor exercise final. In a show of respect, she gave the winner, Shawn Johnson a gift in congratulations for her win.

Fei's competitive gymnastics career ended with her rupturing her Achilles tendon in June of 2012. She has been recommended as a coach to the Chinese national team.


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