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Sang Lan

Sang Lan (Simplified Chinese: 桑兰) (born June 11, 1981, Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China) is a former Chinese gymnast, television personality and student.


Athletic career and injury

Sang achieved excellence in gymnastics at a young age, winning the all-around and every single event final at the 1991 Zhejiang Province Championships. By 1995 she was competing nationally. Sang was one of China's strongest vaulters, placing second on the event at the 1995 Chinese Nationals. While she never represented China at the Olympics or World Gymnastics Championships, she did compete at the 1996 and 1997 American Cup meets and was selected for the 1998 Goodwill Games team.

In New York at the Goodwill Games, during warmups for the vault event final, Sang fell while she was performing a timer (a simple vault, used by the athlete to familiarize herself with the apparatus and warm up). She could not raise herself from the mat and was taken to the hospital.

Tests indicated that she had fractured and dislocated her C6 and C7 vertebrae and injured her spinal cord. The result of the injury was paralysis from the mid-chest down.

Sang remained in New York City for almost a year, receiving rehabilitation at Mount Sinai Hospital. Many celebrities, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Celine Dion and Christopher Reeve visited and offered their support; she was also invited to participate in the New Year's Eve festivities in Times Square as an honored guest.


Since returning to China, Sang has become a celebrity and an advocate for the disabled. A television miniseries about her life was produced in the late 1990s; she was portrayed by her former gymnastics teammate Mo Huilan. Sang also hosts her own show, Sang Lan Olympics 2008. on STAR TV, a Mandarin-language television channel. She was an ambassador for Beijing's successful 2008 Olympics bid and has been selected as an Olympic relay torchbearer.

Sang is currently a student at Peking University. She has continued a rigorous physical therapy regimen and has regained some use of her arms and hands. She has also expressed an interest in returning to competitive sports and wishes to represent China as a table tennis player at the 2008 Paralympic Games.

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