BEIJING (Reuters) - With the little matter of winning the Olympic all-around gold medal out of the way, Yang Wei has been given permission by his coach to get married.
Yang finally shed his tag as the ‘nearly man’ on Thursday when he picked up the most coveted individual prize in gymnastics at his third Games.
After accomplishing his mission, coach Huang Yubin was finally ready to let go of one his most famous charges.
“Our next move is to let Yang Wei adjust himself, both his health and psychology,” Huang told reporters.
“We can’t squeeze everything out of him. He can get married to Yang Yun, his girlfriend. They have registered for a marriage certificate.”
Under China’s stringent training regime the amount of time gymnasts mix with their friends and family is regulated by their coaches.
But before he makes the most of his new-found freedom with his former-gymnast girlfriend, Yang was ready to reflect on his greatest achievement.
After bagging a silver medal in 2000, Yang had the all-around gold within his grasp in 2004 but a fall from the horizontal bar — his last apparatus — deprived him of a medal of any color.
On Thursday, he finally redeemed himself.
“After Athens I wanted to retire from the national team because I thought I was in very good shape back then. If I couldn’t win a gold then I thought I could never get a gold,” said Yang, who now has three Olympic golds in his possession after the team successes in 2000 and this week.
“Extra training would not have had an effect. I was worried even if I could have adjusted myself to the best standards in 2008, I could not get gold.”
However, a pep talk by his coach gave Yang the boost he needed to stay in the sport.
“Huang Yubin kept encouraging me,” said Yang, who is unbeaten on the global all-around stage since 2006.
“He took me on vacation and told me that the 2008 Games would be the greatest chance in 100 years and I should have a try at it. He kept pushing me and then he kicked me to the highest position on the podium.”
His coach added: “Yang Wei has waited for this gold medal for eight years. At the Sydney 2000 Games he lost, then he brought his dream to the Athens 2004 Olympics but the dream did not come true. It was a big failure.
“Yang Wei never gave up and as a result he got this medal.”
Editing by Steve Ginsburg