Born: July 8, 1939 in Suzhou, Jiangsu (China)
Yuan had one of the most dominant teams in the history of our sport during the late 1970s and 1980s when the Chinese women won every major event for a span of three years. He put together a team that was one of the smoothest, most error-free, remarkable ball control teams that has ever played the game. It was identified mostly in the personality and performance of Lang Ping, but it was one of those teams where you could have identified any player as an all-world performer. He had developed a great team concept. They were particularly good in the organization and coordination in both their side out and transition attack. They looked like they were always in rhythm in attacking and were almost impossible to stop offensively.
Yuan spent his entire career in the world of sports. He led the Chinese Women's National Team to gold medals at the 1982 World Championships, the 1983 World Cup, the 1983 World Grand Prix and the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Yuan held the position of president of the Asian Volleyball Confederation between 1997 and 2001. In his role, Yuan was credited with helping to popularize volleyball on the Asian continent, initiating new tournaments and overseeing the rapid and impressive development of Asian Beach Volleyball. Concurrently, he was a member of the FIVB Board of Administration.
Yuan developed a passion for all sports, not just volleyball. He served China as its Deputy Minister of Sports from 1984 to 1998, before moving into his expanded role as Deputy Director, State General Administration of Sports. Yuan’s administrative skills led to his ascension as president of the China Olympic Committee in 2000. He was named the executive president of the Beijing Organizing Committee in 2004 for the 2008 Olympiad.
Yuan retired in 2005 after five decades involved in sports. In March 2005, he received China’s Lifetime Achievement Award as part of its Top Sports Figure Glory award program.