sharing the Olympic spirit
OLYMPICS/ Celetrities

Work hard for Beijing Olympics: Cheng Fei
Updated: 2008-02-14 11:30


At the Melbourne World Gymnastics Championships in 2005, a young Chinese girl called Cheng Fei rose to prominence all across the world. She even had her own signature move named after her, the "Cheng Fei Maneuver".

The first female vault champion in Chinese history jumped onto the podium and into people's hearts.

But 2007 was full of problems: her weight went up and she could no longer perform her own move. Let's take a closer look at Cheng Fei's story as she goes for gold in 2008.

This is the "Cheng Fei Maneuver", a one-hundred-and-eighty-degree back flip with a 540-degree forward flip.

The extremely difficult and eye-catching move was named after China's young star Cheng Fei at the 2005 World Championships. After reaching such heights, nobody could foresee that - just two short years later - she would have fallen from grace.

Cheng Fei said "I tried my best to get my career back on track with extra training, and I finally rediscovered my form. My coach Lu Shanzhen said that now it's real "Cheng Fei maneuver" again."

2007 was not an easy year for Cheng Fei.

Lu Shanzhen, Cheng Fei's coach said "As an athlete, things may not always go your way and you may meet difficulties. Though 2007 was a hard year for Cheng Fei, if she can overcome her difficulties, she can perform well in the 2008, and she will have a bright future. Every competition is a challenge for her."

After vaulting China back onto the podium in 2005, Cheng Fei won three titles at the 2006 World Championships in Denmark. She won golds in the vault, floor and team disciplines, becoming easily the most decorated female gymnast in China.

But it's not so lucky for Chengfei in 2007. The first troubles for Cheng Fei as she grew older concerned her weight. Now she weighs herself every day both before and after training, an entirely new issue for her.

Cheng Fei said "I haven't had any problems with my weight before. When I was young, I tried my best to eat a lot to strengthen myself. Though I was very tired, I only needed one day to rest. But now I need about one week. My diet consists mainly of fruit and water. I'll have lunch at the dining hall after morning training, and my dinner is just some fruit and water."

After two years at the top of her sport, her body began to tire, and she fell out of shape. It's a familiar condition often seen among women gymnasts, but weight wasn't her biggest problem. Even worse, by the start of 2007 she could no longer do the "Cheng Fei Maneuver".

Lu Shanzhen, Cheng Fei's coach said "For our women gymnasts, many excellent athletes haven't overcome the difficulties in their growing period and so they've retired. In winter training, Cheng Fei didn't know what to do on the vault. But after a long time, she got back on track."

At the 2007 World Championships in Germany, Cheng Fei made a simple mistake in the preliminary stages. Meanwhile, the team also failed to regain the title, instead taking home the silver.

With the pressure mounting, she came to the final, and proved to the world - and to herself - that she was still the best. She took the title with a miraculous performance to give her three consecutive World Championship titles in the vault.

From take-off to landing lasted just six seconds. But it took Cheng Fei more than six months' work to find her form for those six seconds.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics won't be an easy task for China's gymnastic team.

Lu Shanzhen, Cheng Fei's coach said "For China's women's team, I can say we are the strongest team in history according to our current technical ability and staff. I believe we can do better in 2008 Beijing Olympics than ever before in the Olympics. I believe our girls can prepare better than in the past. We'll have to take our training seriously, and try our best with every step we take."

Cheng Fei will once again be launching her bid for three gold medals for the team, vault and floor exercises.

Cheng Fei said "I get nervous thinking about the 2004 Athens Olympics. I'm afraid I'll make a mistake in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But there's nothing I can do, just go ahead and compete. There's no other way. The harder I train, the calmer I will be and then I will perform better. All I can do is just work hard in training every day."

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