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Played for China, now on the streets

A former gymnastics champion in China was chased out of a commercial street area by police after engaging in unauthorized begging and a street performance.

sports Updated: Jul 17, 2011 23:45 IST

A former gymnastics champion in China was chased out of a commercial street area by police after engaging in unauthorized begging and a street performance.

Zhang Shangwu, a 27-year-old retired gymnast, was recognized by a passerby, who took a picture of him begging and performing before he was driven away by patrolling police.

A passerby posted the shot online, which stoked public interest in the fallen star, the China Daily reports.

Once a shining gymnastics star at the age of 18, he won two gold medals at the 2001 Beijing Universiade. His gymnastics career came to a stop in 2003 when he suffered a tendon injury, and failed to be elected to China’s gymnastics team for the 2004 Athens Games. In 2007, Zhang gained notorious fame with a series of theft cases. He was caught stealing athletic equipment worth 30,000 Yuan from a sports school in Beijing. He also confessed he had committed about ten similar thefts because of financial strains.

The post caught the attention of Zhang’s former coach Fan Hongbin, who says Zhang’s retirement and recent incidents are all caused by ‘personal reasons.’ ANI