TOKYO (Japan) - China took home the first-ever 3x3 bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, a historical accomplishment amongst the world’s best teams.
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After winning the FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2019, it would be assumed that they were one of the favorites coming into the event. After all, they had qualified straight to the Games through their ranking. But, the team they took to Tokyo was very different than that World Cup winner.
After Zhiting Zhang, there were no other players that returned from the squad. They would need their new players to play a starring role.
One of those players was Shuyu Yang. At just 19 years old, Yang had not played any 3x3 before December of 2020, and none outside of China. She is a member of the Guangdong Vermilion Birds of the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association, alongside her older sister, Yang Liwei. Liwei was also selected to represent her country at the Tokyo Olympics as part of the Chinese Women’s National Team in basketball.
When asked who inspired her to play basketball, Yang Shuyu gave all the credit to her big sister. “My sister, on and off the court she's always been my beacon.”
At the games, Shuyu Yang was an integral part of China’s success. She finished with 44 points, the 10th best in the field. She seemed to shine the brightest against France, scoring a team-high 7 points in the pool stage before playing lockdown defense and helping China win the bronze medal against the same French team. It was a big moment for the country and Yang specifically.
When you play well on the biggest sporting stage in the world, you’re bound to get noticed. Within just a few shorts days of playing at the 3x3 event, fans in China began to smash that follow button on her Weibo page, going from a healthy 200,000 before the Olympics to an insane 2.4 million followers as we're writing this…
Not only were they impressed with her basketball skills, but she began to trend for her unique look. Her short hairstyle was the talk of Weibo, positively comparing her to some other famous basketball players in the country. In fact in some members of the Chinese basketball community chimed in, including Zhao Jiwei of the Chinese Basketball Association.
This fast fame came to be seen by going through a quick Weibo search for her name.
With Chinese 3x3 continuing to grow, Yang wants to continue to get better and model her game after the greats. "I want to learn Kyrie (Irving)’s dribbling skills. Klay (Thompson) is also very consistent in every game."
When asked if she has a specific basketball accomplishment she wants to achieve she said, "I want to dunk."
That should give her followers something to like.