Her victory in the women"s 500 m short track at the 2002 Winter Olympics made her China"s first-ever Winter Olympics gold medalist. She retired soon afterwards. By coincidence, she had a contemporary on the Chinese skating team, one year and one month her junior, also named Yang Yang in pinyin and English (although with a different given name character in Chinese).
The "(A)" identifier was used as a way to distinguish her from the younger Yang Yang.
Originally, the older Yang Yang was known as Yang Yang (L) for "large" (大 or "big" in Chinese is used to distinguish between younger and older persons of roughly the same age), as she is older than Yang Yang (South) (for "small"). However, she objected to the "L" identifier, changing it to "A" for "August", her birth month.
Although the younger Yang Yang (South) is now retired from competition and there is no longer a need to distinguish between the two in results, Yang Yang (A) still uses the identifier in competition, considering it a part of her identity. Yang Yang (A) was chosen to be one of 12,000 torchbearers to carry the Olympic torch for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, and on November 22, 2009, she ran a portion of the Prince Edward Island legs.
Yang was elected as an International Olympic Committee member in 2010 becoming mainland China"s fourth International Olympic Committee member.
In 2013, Yang co-founded the Feiyang Skating Centre in Shanghai, a new double-rink facility with an Olympic-sized rink upstairs and a recreational-sized rink downstairs, built to promote ice sports in China.
International Olympic Committee]
She was formerly a member of the Chinese national short track team She is also a committee member of the World Anti Doping Agency, and founding member of the Chinese Athlete Education Foundation.