Amy Chow

Last updated
Amy Chow
Country representedFlag of the United States.svg  United States
Born (1978-05-15) May 15, 1978 (age 40) [1]
Hometown San Jose, California
Discipline Women's artistic gymnastics
LevelSenior International
Years on national team1990–1997, 1999–2001
ClubWest Valley Gymnastics School
Head coach(es)Mark Young, Diane Amos
Eponymous skills Chow/Khorkina, Chow II

Amy Yuen Yee Chow (Chinese: ; pinyin: Zhōu Wǎnyí; born May 15, 1978 [1] ) is a retired American artistic gymnast who competed at the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics. She is best known for being a member of the Magnificent Seven, which won the United States' first team gold medal in Olympic gymnastics. She is also the first Asian-American woman to win an Olympic medal in gymnastics. [2]

Chinese language family of languages

Chinese is a group of related, but in many cases not mutually intelligible, language varieties, forming the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the ethnic Chinese majority and many minority ethnic groups in China. About 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese as their first language.

Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.

Artistic gymnastics is a discipline of gymnastics in which athletes perform short routines on different apparatuses, with less time for vaulting. The sport is governed by the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), which designs the code of points and regulates all aspects of international elite competition. Within individual countries, gymnastics is regulated by national federations, such as Gymnastics Canada, British Gymnastics, and USA Gymnastics. Artistic gymnastics is a popular spectator sport at many competitions, including the Summer Olympic Games.


Early life

Chow was born to Nelson and Susan Chow, who had immigrated to the United States from Shanghai and Hong Kong, respectively.

Shanghai Municipality in Peoples Republic of China

Shanghai is one of the four municipalities under the direct administration of the central government of the People's Republic of China, the largest city in China by population, and the second most populous city proper in the world, with a population of 24.18 million as of 2017. It is a global financial center and transport hub, with the world's busiest container port. Located in the Yangtze River Delta, it sits on the south edge of the estuary of the Yangtze in the middle portion of the West China coast. The municipality borders the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the south, east and west, and is bound to the east by the East China Sea.

Hong Kong East Asian city

Hong Kong, officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China and commonly abbreviated as HK, is a special administrative region of China on the eastern side of the Pearl River estuary in southern China. With over 7.4 million people of various nationalities in a 1,104-square-kilometre (426 sq mi) territory, Hong Kong is the world's fourth-most densely populated region.

Chow began gymnastics training in 1981 at the age of 3. Her mother wanted her to be a ballerina and tried enrolling her in ballet schools, none of which would take a child that young. [3] She then signed Amy up for classes at West Valley Gymnastics School in Campbell, California, where she joined an accelerated program at the age of 5, training under Mark Young and Diane Amos. Her younger brother, Kevin, was also a gymnast.

Campbell, California City in California, United States

Campbell is a city in Santa Clara County, California, and part of Silicon Valley, in the San Francisco Bay Area. As of the 2016 U.S. Census, Campbell's population is 42,584. Although not a major high-tech city like many of its neighbors, Campbell is the original home of eBay and of its creator, Pierre Omidyar.

Gymnastics career


At 11 years old, Chow became the first gymnast at her school to reach the elite level. She began competing nationally in 1990.


Chow's first international competition was the 1994 World Championships in Dortmund, Germany. After a poor showing in preliminaries (she fell twice on vault and three times in a single balance beam routine), she performed well in the team finals, helping the United States clinch a silver medal.

The 1994 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships were held in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia from 19–24 April 1994.

Dortmund Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Dortmund is, with a population of 586,600 (2017), the third largest city of Germany's most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia after Cologne and Düsseldorf, and Germany's eighth largest city. It is the largest city of the Ruhr, Germany's largest urban area with some 5.1 million (2011) inhabitants, as well as the largest city of Westphalia. On the Emscher and Ruhr rivers, it lies in the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region and is considered the administrative, commercial and cultural centre of the eastern Ruhr.

Vault (gymnastics) gymnastics apparatus; skill

The vault is an artistic gymnastics apparatus on which gymnasts perform, as well as the skill performed using that apparatus. Vaulting is also the action of performing a vault. Both male and female gymnasts perform the vault. The English abbreviation for the event in gymnastics scoring is VT

The following year, Chow was part of the gold-medal-winning American team at the 1995 Pan American Games, where she also won a gold medal on vault, silver on the uneven bars and bronze in the all-around. [4] She made the United States team for the 1995 World Championships, but had to withdraw because of a sprained ankle sustained just days before the competition.

Uneven bars gymnastics apparatus

The uneven bars or asymmetric bars is an artistic gymnastics apparatus. It is made of a steel frame. The bars are made of fiberglass with wood coating, or less commonly wood. The English abbreviation for the event in gymnastics scoring is UB or AB, and the apparatus and event are often referred to simply as "bars". The bars are placed at different heights and widths, allowing the gymnast to transition from bar to bar. A gymnast usually adds white chalk to the hands so that they can grip the bar better.

The 30th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships were held at Sun Dome Fukui in Sabae, Japan in 1995.


Chow is primarily known for her performance at the 1996 Summer Olympics, where she won a gold medal with the team and a silver on the uneven bars. At the Olympic Trials, she fell off the beam, scraping her face on the side of the apparatus, but got up and completed her routine despite obvious pain, [5] and was named to the Olympic team along with Amanda Borden, Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu, Jaycie Phelps and Kerri Strug. The team would become known as the Magnificent Seven.

1996 Summer Olympics Games of the XXVI Olympiad, in Atlanta

The 1996 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXVI Olympiad, commonly known as Atlanta 1996, and also referred to as the Centennial Olympic Games, were an international multi-sport event that was held from July 19 to August 4, 1996, in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. These Games, which were the fourth Summer Olympics to be hosted by the United States, marked the centenary of the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens—the inaugural edition of the modern Olympic Games. They were also the first since 1924 to be held in a different year from a Winter Olympics, under a new IOC practice implemented in 1994 to hold the Summer and Winter Games in alternating, even-numbered years.

Amanda Kathleen Borden is a retired American gymnast. She was the captain of the gold medal-winning United States team in the 1996 Summer Olympics, the Magnificent Seven; a team medalist at the World Championships, and a multiple medalist at the 1995 Pan American Games. Borden was known for her clean form and technique, as well as her vivacious, encouraging presence.

Dominique Dawes American gymnast

Dominique Margaux Dawes is a retired American artistic gymnast. Known in the gymnastics community as 'Awesome Dawesome,' she was a 10-year member of the U.S. national gymnastics team, the 1994 U.S. all-around senior National Champion, a three-time Olympian, a World Championship silver and bronze medalist, and a member of the gold-medal-winning team "Magnificent Seven" at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Dawes is also notable as being the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic medal in artistic gymnastics, and the first black person of any nationality or gender to win an Olympic-gold-medal in gymnastics. She is also one of only three female American gymnasts, along with Muriel Grossfeld and Linda Metheny-Mulvihill, to compete in three Olympics and was part of their medal-winning teams: Barcelona 1992 (bronze), Atlanta 1996 (gold), and Sydney 2000 (bronze). She is also the Olympic bronze medalist on floor exercise from the Atlanta games. Dawes is the first female gymnast to be a part of three Olympic-medal-winning teams since Lyudmila Turischeva won gold in Mexico City (1968), Munich (1972), and Montreal (1976). Since Dawes, Svetlana Khorkina is the only gymnast to accomplish this feat, winning silver in Atlanta (1996) and Sydney (2000), and bronze in Athens (2004).

In the team final at the Olympics, Chow competed on the uneven bars and vault. In the bars event final, she completed a very difficult routine with an almost flawless dismount and scored a 9.837. She edged out the more experienced Dawes to tie for silver with Bi Wenjing of China, although the commentators felt Chow should not have had to share the medal, as Bi made a visible mistake that the judges did not take into account. [6]

After the Olympics, Chow and her teammates performed in numerous exhibitions, including the John Hancock Tour.


When Chow decided to return to gymnastics in hopes of competing at the 2000 Olympics, she contacted Mark Young and asked him to train her for it. He agreed, despite the fact that he was retired by then. Chow juggled a rigorous training regimen with medical research at Stanford University, where she was working toward her undergraduate degree in biology, but ultimately took time off school to train. [7]

Five of the seven members of the Magnificent Seven tried for a spot on the 2000 Olympic team: Chow, Dawes, Miller, Moceanu and Phelps. In the end, only Chow and Dawes made it, along with Jamie Dantzscher, Kristen Maloney, Elise Ray and Tasha Schwikert. Chow proved she was in top form by finishing second in the all-around at the Olympic Trials. She was also named by Béla Károlyi as one of three leaders of the 2000 team, the other two being Ray and Dantzscher. The team finished fourth at the Olympics, and individually, Chow finished fourteenth in the all-around final.

Ten years later, on April 28, 2010, Chow and her teammates were awarded the bronze medal when it was discovered that the original bronze medalists, the Chinese team, had falsified the age of team member Dong Fangxiao. Dong's results were nullified, and the Chinese team was stripped of the medal by the International Olympic Committee. [8] Chow said that while the American team had been disappointed with its fourth-place finish in 2000, she nevertheless felt bad for the Chinese gymnasts because they had worked equally hard to medal. [9]

Notable skills

Chow has two gymnastics skills named after her on the uneven bars: the "Chow/Khorkina" (stalder 1½ pirouette) and the "Chow II" (stalder to Shaposhnikova). [10] She was nicknamed "the Trickster" within the gymnastics community for her extreme difficulty on each apparatus and her ability to perform complicated skills with apparent ease. [10] She was the first American woman to perform a double-twisting Yurchenko vault and a tucked double-double bars dismount in international competition. She also competed one of the most difficult balance beam routines ever performed. It included a standing piked full; back handspring, layout, back handspring, layout series; full-twisting swing down; and round-off, back handspring, triple full dismount.

Chow's plaque at the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame Amy Chow plaque, SJ Sports Hall of Fame.JPG
Chow's plaque at the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame

Other accomplishments

In 1994, Chow received an advanced level certificate of merit for piano. In high school, she was a competitive diver for Castilleja School, and continued with the sport at Stanford. She also competed in pole vaulting [11] as an unattached athlete at "open" track and field events. Because she received monetary compensation following the 1996 Olympics, she was ineligible to be a collegiate athlete.


Chow attended Stanford University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biology in 2002. She graduated from Stanford Medical School in 2007 [12] and completed her residency in pediatrics at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. [13] She is licensed as a physician and surgeon. [14]

She married Jason Ho, an orthopedic surgeon, on July 10, 2010, in Saratoga, California. After finishing her residency at Lucile Packard in June 2010, she set up private practice as a general pediatrician in Northern California, where she lives with her husband and two sons, Timmy and Matty. [15]

Awards and recognition

Chow was inducted into the U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame twice: in 1998 as a member of the 1996 Olympic team, and again in 2005 as an individual. [16] In 2004, she was inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame. [17]

In spring 2003, Chow received the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. She was also a recipient of the Outstanding Overseas Chinese Award. [18]

In 2008, she was inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame in the team category, alongside the rest of the Magnificent Seven. The team received their award in Chicago with other Olympic greats. [19]

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