He Kexin: Reliving the Olympic champion’s iconic routines on her 29th birthday

By Patricia Duffy | January 1, 2021
He Kexin: Reliving the Olympic champion's iconic routines on her 29th birthday
Adam Pretty/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Happy New Year! And happy birthday to China’s He Kexin, who turns 29 years old today! In honor of the two-time Olympic gold medalist’s birthday, we’re taking a look back at some of her career highlights and most iconic routines.

Career Highlights

2008 Beijing Olympics | Gold | Team Final & Uneven Bars

Credit: Dee/YouTube

At just 16 years old, He won individual gold on the uneven bars at the 2008 Olympics in front of her hometown crowd in Beijing, but her best routine of those games actually came during the team final, when she scored a whopping 16.850 to help the Chinese women win gold–that’s 0.125 more than her golden performance in event finals! This routine is iconic for so many reasons: the near-perfect technique, sky-high releases (that laid-out Jaeger is unbelievable!), and the sheer strength that gives her the ability to cast up to handstand when she returns to the high bar after her low bar sequence.

Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place2008 BeijingTeam
Gold medal – first place2008 BeijingUneven Bars
Silver medal – second place2012 LondonUneven Bars

2009 World Championships (London) | Gold | Uneven Bars

Credit: Dee/YouTube

One year after He became an Olympic Champion, she became a World Champion on her go-to event at her first Worlds in London’s O2 Arena. Three years later, she would earn Olympic silver on the apparatus in the same venue. This routine went 16.000. One thing about He: She was consistent when it counted and always pulled her weight for her team, so it’s no surprise she is one of only five Chinese female gymnasts to make two Olympic Games!

World Championships
Gold medal – first place2009 LondonUneven Bars
Bronze medal – third place2010 RotterdamTeam
Bronze medal – third place2011 TokyoTeam

Bonus: He Kexin on floor at the 2010 World Championships (Rotterdam)

Credit: gymcat67/YouTube

While He specialized on uneven bars and will always be remembered for her stunning routines on the apparatus, it’s always fun to watch specialists perform on other events. He competed vault, bars, and floor during qualifying at 2010 Worlds and showcased this fun routine to “Aankhein Khuli” by Jatin Lalit. It’s no shock that her attention to detail extends to other apparatuses. What she lacks in difficulty on the event, she makes up for with great lines and clean landings.

He Kexin Fun Facts

  • She started gymnastics at the age of 5.
  • She is one of only a few gymnasts to score over 17.000 under the 2005-2008 Code of Points.
  • Her 7.7 difficulty score on bars in 2008 was one of the highest in the world.
  • She holds the record for the highest difficulty score during the London quad.
  • He won her 2008 gold on uneven bars on a tiebreaker. Both her and Nastia Liukin posted final scores of 16.725, with identical A- and B-panel scores of 7.70 and 9.025, respectively. Because He’s individual B-panel marks had a lower variance, she won the gold medal per the FIG’s Olympic tiebreaker rules.
  • She is one of only five Chinese female gymnasts to make two Olympic teams, along with Liu Xuan, Kui Yuanyuan, 2008 team captain Cheng Fei, and Deng Linlin.
  • Her 2008 floor routine was set to “Travel to India” and “The Awakening” from Jackie Chan’s “The Myth” movie soundtrack.

Happy Birthday, He Kexin! Cheers to an exciting year ahead!