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Yang's golden moment

After 8 years, he wins all-around

By Nancy Armour
Associated Press / August 14, 2008
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BEIJING - Yang Wei of China won the all-around gold medal in men's gymnastics, finally getting the Olympic title that has eluded him for eight years.

Yang, the two-time defending world champion, finished with 94.575 points today, nearly 3 points ahead of Kohei Uchimura of Japan. Benoit Caranobe of France won the bronze.

Americans Jonathan Horton (91.575 points) was ninth; Alexander Artemev (90.675) finished 12th.

Yang had finished second to Russian Alexei Nemov in 2000, and fell apart at the Athens Olympics. But this one was never in doubt.

With every day bringing another gold medal, gymnastics is fast becoming China's domain at the Beijing Olympics. And no one is a bigger star than Yang.

After eight years of waiting, he's certainly earned it.

He didn't even bother waiting for his marks on high bar, his final event, before taking a curtain call, leaping onto the podium and thrusting his fists in the air. His coach gave him a Chinese flag, and he held it out with pride. Judges took what seemed like forever to post his marks, but that only gave Yang more time to soak it all in.

As the adoring crowd chanted "Yang Wei! Yang Wei" he pounded his chest. When his final mark finally did go up, the crowd went wild and Yang wanted more, cupping his hands to his ears to ask for more. They did, of course, cheering lustily for the man who could rank right up there with Yao Ming and Liu Xiang in star power. The only difference right now, Yang's got two gold medals, the other two guys are still waiting.

Yang was dismissively referred to as "the silver collector" after he finished second to Nemov at the Sydney Olympics and second to Paul Hamm at the 2003 world championships. The gold was his for the taking in Athens when Hamm fell midway through the meet, but Yang couldn't close the deal. He fell on high bar, and dropped all the way to seventh.

No one has been better the last two years.

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