Owing to her central role in the success of the Chinese women’s volleyball team in the 1980s, Lang Ping was seen as a cultural icon and is one of the most respected people in modern Chinese sports history.
Lang Ping was born in Tianjin, 10 December 1960. She moved to Los Angeles with her former husband Bai Fan (Frank) to study and serve as an assistant volleyball coach at the University of New Mexico. She was married to former Chinese national male handball team player “Frank” Fan Bai from 1987 to 1995. In 1992, they had a daughter named Lydia Lang Bai. Her daughter, a former member of Stanford women’s volleyball team, graduated in June 2014 and has been working as investment banking analyst at Jefferies Group since January 2015. Lang Ping is currently married to Wang Yucheng who is a professor at China Academy of Social Science.
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 World Championship crown in 1982 in Peru and World Cup titles in 1981 and 1985.
At the end of the 1976 Cultural Revolution, China re-joined the sporting world. Though the Chinese ping-pong team won competitions internationally, ping-pong had always been considered a Chinese expertise. Lang and the women’s volleyball team was the first team sport to win the World Championship multiple times, concluding with the 1984 Olympics. Lang was the star outside hitter on the team. She will always be remembered as one of the very first world champions for China.
Lang Ping was an assistant coach at the University of New Mexico from 1987–89 and 1992-93.
In 1995, Lang became the head coach of the Chinese national team and eventually guided the squad to the silver medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia and 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 the coach of the year award multiple times.
She became the coach of the US National Team in 2005. Lang guided the team to the 2008 Olympics, where the US team faced off with China in her home country. The US team defeated China 3-2. Then Chinese and US presidents, Hu Jintao and George W. Bush, attended the match. The match drew 250 million television viewers in China alone. The team went on to win the silver medal, losing to Brazil in the finals 3-1. Lang allowed her contract to run out later that year, citing that she wanted to coach a club so as to spend more time with her family. She is the head coach of the China women’s national volleyball team, winning the World Cup in Japan in 2015. In 2014, she was the only female head coach among the 24 teams in the FIVB World Championship.
On August 21, 2016, Lang Ping guided the Chinese national team to the gold medal at 2016 Rio Olympics. With this victory, Lang Ping became the first person in volleyball history, male or female, to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games as a player (Chinese national team) in (1984 Los Angeles) and as a head coach (Chinese national team) in (2016 Rio). Lang Ping also became the first person to win gold as both a player and a coach in Olympic Games and World Cup.