Lu Li (CHN)

Photo used with the expressed permission of Shanfan. Check outShanfan's gymnastics site

1992 World Apparatus Finals: 19th V (prelims), 4th UB, 39th FX (prelims)
1992 Olympics: 4th T, 1st UB, 2nd BB
1992 Pacific Alliance Championships: 1st AA
1992 Trophee Massilia
1993 Chunichi: 7th AA 

Majority of results courtesy of Gymn Forum

Lu Li was born on August 30, 1976 in Hunan, a southern province in China. Her parents worked in a state-owned factory and lived on the factory grounds in a one-bedroom flat. A former gymnast herself, Lu Li’s mother saw talent in her daughter at an early age, an impression echoed by the girl's early coaches. “As soon as a I saw Lu Li I could see that she was very vivacious,” said coach Zhou Xiao Ning. “She came bouncing in and her eyes were so bright. From her running and jumping I could see that she had considerable physical ability."

Lu Li was accepted to train at the sports school, eventually leaving her one-bedroom flat to live in the school’s boarding house. Hard work and dedication earned Lu Li a spot on the Olympic team. Going into Barcelona, Lu Li was far from the favourite. Having competed in only one major international meet prior to the Olympics – the 1992 World Apparatus Finals – Lu Li was a relative unknown. Although her fourth place finish on bars in Paris raised some eyebrows (she likely would have medalled were it not for a hop on her dismount), her weak showings on vault (19th) and floor (39th) did little to herald Lu Li as one to watch in Barcelona.

What Lu Li lacked in reputation she more than made up in talent and luck. She qualified to two event finals, bars and beam (oddly, beam was the only event in which Lu Li had not entered in Paris the previous year). Lu Li had the night of her life, winning bars with a perfect 10.0 (the first 10.0 for WAG in those Games) and topping off the evening with a silver on beam. Lu Li became a national hero.

“After we'd all seen it on television our factory director was the first to call and offer his congratulations," Lu Li's father told BBC. "After that our neighbors lit off firecrackers on along our street, as far as our house. We didn't get a wink of sleep all night." The entire family benefited from Lu Li’s success. Lu Li’s father was promoted from the factory floor to the company shop and the family was given a new flat. Local businessmen filled the new apartment with furniture, colour televisions, video players, and air conditioners. The local government rewarded the Lu family with £8,000 in cash.

With a spectacular Olympic showing under her belt, many expected great things of Lu Li in the years to come. Indeed, Lu Li’s coaches insisted that she had yet to reach her full potential. Lu Li had other ideas, however. Soon after Barcelona she told BBC that all she really wanted to do is retire. She explained that following Barcelona she became plagued by a leg injury. “Sometimes the pain becomes unbearable…I’ve had too many injuries and I’m too tired,” explained a sad Lu Li. “I want to retire. I really can’t bear it anymore.” Lu Li competed in the 1993 Chunichi Cup, placing a disappointing 7th AA and retired soon after, in early in 1994.

Lu Li began studying international culture and media at the prestigious University of Beijing. “I just wanted to go to college, make up for some lost time in the knowledge part,” Lu Li told the Helena IR. “Education wasn’t a big part of what we did when I was in gymnastics and I didn’t understand how hard college would be. In college, they wanted to give me more privileges than the other students because they knew I won the gold medal, but I told them I wanted to be treated like the other students so I could learn. It was hard, but college was another big accomplishment for me.”

In February 1999, the Chinese Sports Newspaper published an article about Lu Li entitled “Today’s Lu Li.” Nearing her graduation, Lu Li revealed that she hoped to continue her studies abroad. She was secretive about her plans, revealing only that “it’s related to gymnastics.”

Indeed, Lu Li maintains a love for her sport. As one of China’s most respected former gymnasts, Lu Li was named to China’s delegation for the 1997 World University Games held in Italy. Today she watches every gymnastics competition possible and keeps in contact with many current national team members. Upon Sang Lan’s return to China, Lu Li made a special trip to visit the injured gymnast.

Screen capture from CCTV's Sports Life

In March 2000, Lu Li began working at Gold Star Gymnastics Academy in Mountain View, California. "I wanted to help American kids fulfill their dreams and get to the Olympics," she told the Los Alto Town Crier. "Also, it was my dream to work with gymnasts." At Gold Star, Lu Li focused on coaching the higher level gymnasts and served as the assistant coach for their competitive team. In her spare time she took English courses at Stanford.

Lu Li moved on, heading her own gym in Fremont, CA called All-Around Champion (AAC). 
In 2009, she  moved to Seattle to coach at Emerald City Gymnastics Academy. Now she conducts clinics in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii. 

“It’s fun to see the kids’ faces when they get better,” Lu Li told the Helena IR. “When they see those changes, it makes them happy and that makes me happy....The kids are my motivation, they help me feel younger.”

She has a young son, born around 2005.

. This page was created on July 3, 2000 and updated July 2011.


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