Mo Huilan

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Mo Huilan
— Gymnast —
Full name Mo Huilan
Nickname(s) "China's Little Angel"
Country represented  China
Born 1979
Guilin, Guangxi
Height 148 cm (4 ft 10 in)
Discipline Women's artistic gymnastics
Level Senior International Elite
Club Guilin Gym. School
Head coach(es) Zijuan Yuan
Eponymous skills Mo Salto (uneven bars)
Retired 1997
This is a Chinese name; the family name is 莫 (Mo).

Mo Huilan (simplified Chinese: 莫慧兰; traditional Chinese: 莫慧蘭; pinyin: Mò Huìlán; born 1979 in Guilin, Guangxi) is a retired Chinese gymnast who competed at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. She was one of China's most successful gymnasts in the 1990s. She was known for performing routines of exceptional difficulty and technique, but also for inconsistency.

Her birth date has been reported variously as July 19 and November 7; it is unclear which is correct. She is a fraternal twin; her sister Mo Huifang was also a gymnast.

Gymnastics career[edit]

Both Huilan and Huifang began gymnastics in 1985 in Guangxi. In 1990, they were invited to attend a camp in Beijing to test for admission to the Chinese national training center. Huifang was accepted; Huilan was not. However, showing the determination that would serve her well in her competitive career, Huilan talked the coaches into allowing her to remain in Beijing with her sister. Eventually, Huifang was injured and retired from gymnastics; Huilan, in contrast, thrived and improved.

Mo made her international debut at the 1993 Cottbus Cup, where she placed a modest sixth in the all-around. The next year at the Asian Games, however, she nearly swept the competition with gold medals in the team, balance beam, uneven bars, and vault and a bronze in the all-around.

She came to the attention of the international gymnastics community at the 1994 World Championships in Brisbane, Australia, where she achieved a seventh-place finish in the all-around final, the highest of any Chinese gymnast. Although she placed out of the medals on floor exercise, her routine, which was choreographed to Leroy Anderson's "Typewriter Song", was a hit with the audience. Her performance on the uneven bars, where she debuted her own version of the Gaylord salto, also gained recognition and appreciation. Mo was the first female to perform this skill, a front tuck over the bar to recatch.

At the 1995 World Championships in Sabae, she showed an increased level of difficulty on all events, including a textbook Yurchenko double full, a double layout on floor exercise and beam routine highlighted by a dynamic two foot layout and blind double stag leaps. Her team won the first medal for China in the team competition. Her preliminary scores qualified her to all four event finals and in first place for the all-around, but a fall from beam dropped her to sixth place in the all around final. She won the beam title performing her difficult routine immaculately, and tied for silver on the uneven bars with all around champion Lilia Podkopayeva.

Mo was expected to be a major medal contender at the 1996 Olympics. However, the competition would prove to be disappointing for the entire Chinese team. Errors in the prelims kept Mo from qualifying for the beam and bars event finals; mistakes and falls from several of her teammates kept the Chinese squad from earning a medal in the team competition. In the all-around, Mo produced a beautiful Yurchenko double full and a solid routine on the unevens and balance beam. She was in first place going into the last rotation, floor exercise but stepped out of bounds and dropped to fifth place. She did not leave the Olympics empty handed, winning a silver on vault behind Romanian Simona Amânar. This makes her the first Chinese female gymnast to win a medal on vault at the Olympic/World Championship level.

After the Olympics, Mo participated in exhibitions and shows in the United States before returning to competition. She continued to compete through the 1997 season. However, after less than stellar performances at the World Championships and other meets, she quietly retired from gymnastics.

Life after gymnastics[edit]

By all accounts, Mo's life after gymnastics has been fruitful. She has enjoyed status as a celebrity in China, where she is recognized as one of the country's most beloved sports figures. She pursued her education at Renmin University of China in Beijing and subsequently began a career as a sports journalist and commentator. She has also tried her hand at modeling and has a contract with the Li Ning company. She portrayed former teammate Sang Lan in a television miniseries.


Mo's style was noted for its excellent form, extension, and difficulty. She also frequently used cheeky choreography on the floor. On the uneven bars, she was the first woman to perform a Gaylord, a front flip over the high bar. This skill is now known as the "Mo Salto" in the Code of Points, and is classified as a "G" element. Only a handful of other women gymnasts have attempted and successfully completed the Mo Salto. In fact, the only women gymnasts who have performed the Mo Salto at international competitions are all from China, including Meng Fei and Bi Wenjing. In 2005 World Championships, Chinese athlete Zhang Yufei performed it successfully in podium training. However, she was injured during the vault qualification, thus she did not use this skill during bars qualification. In 2013 World Championships, Yao Jinnan also successfully performed a Mo Salto during the all-around competition (but did not successful grasp the high bar attempting this in the event final). Another Chinese athlete, the relatively unknown Zhou Duan, performed the even harder Gaylord II (front flip with half twist over the high bar) at the 1997 East Asian Games.

Mo has performed the following elements in competition:

  • Vault: Piked barani, 1.5 twisting and double twisting Yurchenko
  • Uneven bars: Mo salto, inverted giants, Tkatchev, double layout
  • Balance beam: one-arm handstand mount, roundoff — layout to two feet, switch leap — double stag ring leap — back dive 1/4 turn to handstand, front aerial, round off — back handspring — double tuck dismount
  • Floor: double layout, piked full-in, whip — whip — double twist, 2.5 twist — punch front tuck, laid out Rudi, laid out front full — punch front tuck. Her music for floor routines was:

External links[edit]