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Olympic Champion Yang Announces Retirement
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Reigning world and Olympic all-around champion Yang Wei announced his retirement this week, saying injury and age will prevent him from ending his career at China's National Games in October.


2008 Olympic all-around champion Yang Wei (China)

"The longer you have stayed, the harder it is to leave," said Yang, 29.

Yang, a three-time Olympian, has won 14 world and Olympic medals, 10 of them gold.

Yang headlined China's dominating performance at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where the host nation won seven of eight available gold medals in men's gymnastics. With large margins of victory, Yang led China to the team title and won the all-around gold.

He was a member of the Chinese teams that took gold at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, where he finished second all-around. He finished second all-around again at the 2003 World Championships, but left the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens empty-handed.

"I wanted to end my career following the flop in Athens out of concern of injuries and my form, but my coach Huang Yubin persuaded me to hang on," Yang said. "I was so eager to be part of the Beijing Olympic squad, so I said no to the thought of leaving finally."

He rebounded to win back-to-back world all-around titles in 2006 and 2007, when he also led China to team titles.

Following his golden success in Beijing, Yang took time off to enjoy the celebrity spotlight, but planned to return to competition in 2009. The 11th National Games will be held Oct. 11-23 in Shandong.

"It would have been more reasonable to retire at the peak of my career after the Olympics," he told Sina.com. "But I decided to battle on for my home province, Hubei, at this year's National Games and started training at the beginning of the year."

A member of China's national team since 1996, the 29-year-old Yang said he has decided to retire earlier than planned.

"I found I could not do as much as I would like to," he said. "Firstly because of injuries, and secondly because of my age — it's much more difficult for me to recover from injuries than before."

Yang wed 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Yang Yun on Nov. 6.

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