Top 10 influential characters in China's sports history

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   Lang Ping - 'Iron Hammer'


Top 10 most influential characters in China's sports history
As head coach, Lang Ping led American national volleyball team to the silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Full name:Lang Ping

Date of birth:December 10, 1960 (age 49)

Place of birth:Tianjin


Lang Ping is a former Chinese volleyball player and the former head coach of the U.S. women's national volleyball team. Her nickname is "Iron Hammer." She is seen as an icon in China and is one of the most respected individuals in modern-day Chinese sports history. In 2002, she became an inductee of the Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke, Massachusetts.


Lang was a member of the Chinese national team that won the gold medal over the United States at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California. She was also a member of the team that won the World Championships in Peru in 1982 and the World Cup titles in 1981 and 1985.

Lang moved to the United States to study and serve as an assistant volleyball coach at the University of New Mexico after retirement.

In 1995, Lang became the head coach of the Chinese national team and eventually guided the team to the silver medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and again to second place at the 1998 World Championships in Japan. Lang Ping resigned from the Chinese national team in 1998 due to health reasons. In the following year, she took a head coaching position in the Italian professional volleyball league and enjoyed great success there, winning the league championship and Coach of the Year award multiple times.

After becoming the US head coach in 2005, Lang led the team to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where the team faced off with her home country. The US team defeated China 3-2, with Chinese President Hu Jintao in attendance. The match drew 250 million television viewers in China alone. Lang's team went on to win the silver medal, losing to Brazil in the finals 3-1.

Legacy in China

To understand Lang's status in China, one needs to understand China's sports history. At the end of the 1976 Cultural Revolution, China re-joined sports internationally. Though China won the table tennis competition, table tennis was a Chinese sport. Lang and the women's volleyball team was the first team to win the World Championship multiple times, concluding with the 1984 Olympics. Lang was the star striker on the team. She maintains Chinese citizenship despite living in the U.S for more than 15 years. She will always be remembered as one of the very first world champions for China.

Major titles

World Cup 1981 (World Champion)

World Championship 1982 (World Champion)

Los Angeles Olympic Games 1984 (World Champion)

World Cup 1985 (World Champion)


Chinese Top Ten Athletes of the Year, 1981-1986

FIVB Coach of the Year, 1996

Women's Volleyball Coach of the Year, Italy, 1999-2000 

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