The gymnast Kai Zou made his World Cup début in 2005. A year later, at the World Championships, he reached the podium in the team event. The following year, at the World Cup in China, he achieved his first big individual victory. The same year, he and his fellow Chinese team members became World Champions in Stuttgart.
The gymnast from Luzhou specialised in the parallel bars and floor exercises. His technical ability led him to be selected for the Chinese team for the Games in Beijing. He won his first Olympic title with team-mates Yibing Chen, Xu Huang, Xiaopeng Li, Qin Xiao and Wei Yang. In the team event, the Chinese gymnasts beat the Japanese and Americans. In the individual events, Kai Zou qualified for the finals of the parallel bars and floor exercises.
For the latter, the final was on 17 August, and Kai Zou was not the favourite. He had finished sixth in the qualifying round but, helped by a home crowd, produced a faultless programme. The judges awarded him the score of 16.050. After all the other gymnasts had competed, he was at the top of the results table, ahead of Spain’s Gervasio Deferr and Russia’s Anton Golotsutskov, who had scores of 15.775 and 15.725 points respectively. That gave him his second gold medal in Beijing.
… and three times
Two days later came the final of the parallel bars. He stepped up to the apparatus full of confidence, after winning the two World Cup events earlier in the year in Cottbus, in Germany, and Tianjin in China. After his programme, he was awarded the score of 16.200, enough to beat America’s Jonathan Horton by 25 hundredths of a point and Germany’s Fabian Hambuechen by 0.325 points. In his favourite discipline, Kai Zou won his third gold medal.
First since 1984
Since Ning Li in 1984, the man who lit the Olympic cauldron at the Beijing Games Opening Ceremony, Kai Zou is the first Chinese to win three gold medals in gymnastics. For his first Olympic Games, Kai Zou can be proud of his achievement.