Athlete of the Month 01/2022 | Yang Shunhong – Shaanxi’s Star Wushu Athlete

As a famous wushu athlete of Shaanxi provincial team, Yang Shunhong has won numerous top titles, including the National Games, the Asian Championships, the World Wushu Championships and the Taolu World Cup. Through consistent hard work and dedication to his sport, Yang, at the age of 31, displays a mature performance in both technical play and mental focus. As a result, he has won the men’s Taijiquan and Taijijian all-around champion titles in the 14th National Games and taken first place in men’s Chen-style Taijiquan (56 style) in the 2021 WTVC. There is no doubt that he was one of the brightest wushu stars in 2021, and promises even more future success as his career continues to blossom.


Wushu Talent at an Early Age

Yang Shunhong was born in an ordinary family in Mei County, Baoji, Shaanxi Province in 1990. At the age of 7 his health was often weak and he experienced nosebleeds, so to improve his constitution he was sent to a Shaolin wushu school in Mei County, Baoji City, Shaanxi Province. There he became acquainted with wushu and began to learn from his coach Chen Dongsheng. After five years of hard training his outstanding performance at the age of 12 helped him win a spot on the professional wushu team of Shaanxi Province. When he entered this provincial team, he was faced with the challenge of shifting his specialization from Changquan, which is fast, quiet, and rhythmic, to Taijiquan, which is loose, coherent, firm and flexible. Switching to a new event means a certain sacrifice. With extraordinary perseverance, he learned new wushu routines from scratch and trained hard. 2007 became a crucial year for the young Yang Shunhong, as he participated in national and international competitions for the first time and became the champion of 42 style Taiijian in the Fourth Asian Junior Wushu Championships. In 2009, Yang Shunhong made his first trip to the National Games, which became another valuable sport experience for the budding young athlete.


Becoming a World Champion

In 2013, Yang Shunhong participated in the National Games for the second time. This time, he took the National Games much more seriously, because he realized that the National Games champion title would be a most significant achievement in his personal sports career. Previously, he won the 2011 National Wushu Routine Taijiquan Championship and the 2013 National Wushu Taolu Championship. When he participated in the National Games for the second time, however, he was overwhelmed by the pressure from both the outside world and from himself, and he could not calm his mind enough, failing to enter the finals.

The road to success is never smooth. After the defeat in the 2013 National Games, he did not give up and trained even harder. He also realized that it was important for an athlete to have a lot of competition experience and continually adjust his or her mentality. “Professional athletes must compete frequently. As they accumulate competition experience and improve the way in which some things are dealt with on the competition field, they can grow.” He overcame injuries and cut through thorny patches in training all the way. In 2016, he won all-around champion in the National Wushu Championship. After the baptism of domestic competitions, Yang Shunhong who was then 27 years old, had the maturity and steadiness that a veteran should have, and won the gold medal in men’s Taijiquan at the 14th World Wushu Championships in 2017. This was the first world champion prize of his career. In 2018, he won gold in men’s Taijiquan in the second Taolu World Cup in Yangon, Myanmar.


Perseverance Helps Realize Dream in Wushu

Yang reflects on his competitions, and remarks, “I participated in four National Games respectively in 2009, 2013, 2017 and 2021. There were mistakes in the first three games, but I was not discouraged and had been consistently improving my competitive level. Finally, I fulfilled my dream of many years by winning the championship in Xianyang this time.”

On the evening of September 3, 2021, with a total score of 19.539, Yang Shunhong won the championship of men’s Taijiquan and Taijijian in the 14th National Games. After years of persistence, his experience and mental sharpness improved with age. But the years of hard physical training, and the increase of injuries, took their toll. Yang Shunhong had to overcome multiple pressures. During the preparation for the National Games, he had to both train and undergo rehabilitation physiotherapy every day, which added hours to his daily routine. In order to realize his competitive wushu dream, he redoubled his efforts, and persevered. At the moment of realizing the dream in the National Games, Yang Shunhong waved his fist and in his opinion, all his efforts are worth it!


Coach and Friend Imparts Spirit of Wushu

Recalling his wushu experience with coach Wu Yanan, Yang Shunhong expresses his gratitude. When they were both athletes in earlier years, Wu Yanan helped to complete the choreography and music editing of the Taijiquan optional routine that Yang Shunhong used in competition. “Prince of Taiji” Wu Yanan is Yang Shunhong’s idol. There is some kind of fate that Yang’s former idol became his current coach after retiring from competition., and Wu continues to exert his steady support helping build this current champion.

Yang Shunhong always pays close attention to the coaching and advice provided by Wu Yanan, reflecting his philosophy of practicing wushu. “When I first learned about wushu, strengthening my body was the main purpose; but after winning the championship, spreading and passing along the spirit and philosophy of wushu are the main goals.” Under the influence of his coach, Yang Shunhong has gained a plethora of experiences in the process of practicing wushu. He believes that after inheriting the values of wushu, it is the obligation of every wushu athlete to pass this inheritance along. After he became a famous champion, Yang assumed a more important responsibility. He hopes that after his retirement, he will continue to pass along the true values of wushu like coach Wu Yanan, thus doing his part for the promotion of wushu.

Talking about the influence of wushu on him, Yang says, “I was naughty when I was a child, and taiji had a great influence on my character. I unknowingly tempered my character and allowed my mood to settle down. Looking back many years later, I find that my character has changed a lot and I am calmer and more reflective now.” Whether after the fierce competition on the field, or under the subtle influence on the whole body and mind outside the arena, Yang Shunhong constantly has his will tempered and his mind cultivated by practicing taijiquan. In addition, he continues to adhere to his dreams and strives to become a better person.

We eagerly look forward to Yang Shunhong’s continued wushu success, and to his next appearance at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games where he seeks to win another championship gold, and show the world the dazzling style of his taiji!


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