Zhang Ning of China celebrates her victory over Maria Kristin Yulianti of Indonesia during the women's singles semifinals of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games badminton event on August 15. Zhang Ning beat Maria Kristin Yulianti 2-0. (Xinhua/Zhang Chen)
|Zhang Ning of China celebrates after winning her women's singles final badminton match against her teammate Xie Xingfang at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 16.|
|Zhang Ning retains her title.|
Getting More Mature
Zhang Ning was defeated by Zhang Haili in the Badminton World Cup in 1994 when she was 19. This destroyed Zhang Ning's confidence, making the next few years of her life a nightmare until she won a gold medal in the Athens Olympics.
Zhang was not young when she won the gold and wanted to retire. But her coach Li Yongbo convinced her by saying: "I won't say anything else but ask¬¬ you -- if you really want to quit." So Zhang stayed.
"I've already spent more than 10 years in badminton; I have changed my point of view and enjoyed badminton very much now. I'm not getting old, just getting more mature," said she.
Badminton the Matchmaker
Zhang told the reporters her marriage day was the most unforgettable time of her life. She cried because she was so happy. There were badmintons at her wedding too – a badminton fence, badminton headwear and so on.
Zhang Ning married a coach for the badminton team named Yu Yang. Zhang and her husband only spent three days together after they married as they are both very busy working and training. They can only chat for a short time or take a walk after dinner. The couple found each other because of badminton, but it is also badminton that has made them live apart.
"I still lead a single life after marriage; I live and eat with the team. I'm getting used to it, and I'm very lucky that Yu Yang gives me so much support," Zhang said.
Yu Yang told the reporters he felt bad because he had not had time to go to the airport to welcome Zhang Ning's return after she won a world championship for two times. He was apologetic for not being a good husband by taking care of his wife.
For Zhang Ning's career future after the Beijing Olympics, Yu Yang would like to give his wife the right to make choices. "She can choose her own future and I'll respect her choice."
Charms in Life
Zhang Ning likes to make herself beautiful by wearing a nice dress, making her a natural charming lady. The fashionable champion likes earrings and large earrings are her favorite. Zhang cannot remember how many pairs of earrings she has. Her earrings are not all expensive. She likes to buy them in small shops. When she goes window shopping, she's just an ordinary woman, not a world champion.
"I'm envious of women who lead a normal life cooking and taking care of children. We will have our children, but not now, maybe after my retirement," Zhang told the reporters.
"Yu Yang likes girls but I like boys, maybe we should have a pair of pigeons," she continued. "My grandmother and Yu Yang's grandmother both had twins, so it would be much possible for us to have twins too."
Profile of Zhang Ning
Date of birth：1975-05-19
Personal best：2004 Athens Olympic Games - 1st singles
(Source:www.southcn.com www.xinhuanet.com/Translated by womenofchina.cn)
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