Kui Yuanyuan : biography
Kui Yuanyuan (Simplified Chinese:奎媛媛) is a former Chinese Gymnast born on June 23, 1981. She is strong on 3 events: Balance Beam, Floor Exercise and Vault. She participated in two Olympic Games, two World Championships and qualified for the 1998 World Cup Final. Kui shocked everyone when she became the 1996 World Champion on floor exercise (the first Chinese woman gymnast to win a world title in this event), although a fall in the semi-finals prevented her from making finals in her best event, the beam. After her unexpected win she competed at the 1996 Olympics, finishing 4th with her team. She also recorded the highest score of the entire Olympics on the balance beam, a 9.875 during the team optionals, and in doing so, became the only gymnast to top the 9.862 scored three consecutive times by Olympic balance beam champion Shannon Miller. Unfortunately, a fall from the beam during the team compulsories (resulting in a disastrous score of 8.925) prevented Kui from making the beam finals. She also failed to make the final in the floor exercise (where she was the world champion).
Kui went on to win two bronze medals at the 1997 Worlds with her team and on the balance beam.
The balance beam results turned into one of the most disputed events in gymnastics history. Kui performed one of the most difficult routines of all time, yet finished .012 behind Romania's Gina Gogean, who competed one of the easiest sets performed in World competition during the 1990s. Kui's rare full-twisting back layout on the beam drew gasps, as did her three split leaps to back handspring, 2 layout step-outs. Kui lost the silver medal as well, to Svetlana Khorkina of Russia, when a tie-breaker was put into effect, respectively. The results prompted the president of the Federation of International Gymnastics to publicly chastise the judges and tell them they were wrong.
In 1997, Kui also became the all-around National Games Champion. Following her successful year in 1997, Kui won 2 gold medals at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok and two medals at the World Cup Final. In 1999 Kui had an injury and could not compete. She had to miss the 1999 World Championships. She recovered in time for the 2000 Olympics, hoping to win that elusive individual gold on the balance beam. Unfortunately, she was injured on vault during preliminaries and could not compete during the team finals. Her team finished 3rd in the end, but the medal was stripped by the IOC in 2010 after one of the Chinese team members was found to be underage during the competition. She admitted it was emotionally devastating for her to watch teammate Liu Xuan take the beam gold in the event finals.
After retiring from gymnastcs, Kui had surgery on her knee. She attended University of International Business and Economics, a university in Beijing to study French but dropped out after a few semesters. In March 2006, she married her boyfriend of two years, a football player. They got to know each other at a MMORPG. A year later, she gave birth to a baby daughter. Kui remains close friends with former teammates Peng Sha (her daughter's godmother) and Bi Wenjing.
Kui is now recognized as one of the most masterful gymnasts on the balance beam, whose team optional routine in the 1996 Olympic Games is until today almost unparalleled in difficulty and execution, yet having never won a gold medal on the apparatus. She is one of many significant victims of questionable judging in artistics gymnastics during the Olympic Games that preceded the new Code of Points and the elimination of compulsory routines.
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