Now the Olympic Channel's latest Five Rings Films documentary shows how Lang moved abroad after captaining the Chinese national team to a historic gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games to forge a trailblazing career as a national team coach for both the United States and China.
The Iron Hammer, titled for Lang's nickname, is the first Olympic Channel Five Rings Films documentary featuring a female athlete and female director. It is directed by Joan Chen, the acclaimed Chinese-American actress and filmmaker whose acting credits include the Academy Award-winning film The Last Emperor and TV series Twin Peaks.
The film premieres on 7 June at 4:30 pm Eastern Daylight Time (8 June 4:30 am Chinese Standard Time) as part of Tribeca Enterprises' "We Are One: A Global Film Festival" online festival benefitting the World Health Organisation's COVID-19 solidarity relief fund. It will launch on the Olympic Channel's platforms later this year.
Lang first joined the Chinese national team in 1978 aged 18. The outside hitter with a fearsome spiking ability – hence her nickname – quickly became a mainstay and led the Chinese team to triumph at four consecutive international championships. They triumphed at the 1981 and 1985 World Cups, the 1982 World Championship, and the 1984 Olympic Games.
The Volleyball Hall of Famer is one of China’s most beloved sports figures. She became a national symbol for China’s rise to international sports success after leading the national volleyball team to their achievements in the 1980s. Then, at the height of her fame, Lang moved to the United States to learn English and spread her love of the game abroad.
Lang took up a position with the U.S. national team in 2005, having agonised over the decision for three months. Public debate was fierce in China, but ultimately she accepted the job to be closer to her American-born daughter. She was criticised in some quarters as a "traitor" when she coached the U.S. team to a win over her homeland at Beijing 2008 en route to winning silver.
But she returned to head the Chinese team in 2013, leading the team out of the doldrums and defying expectations to become the first person in volleyball history to win a gold medal as both a player and coach when she guided the Chinese team to victory at Rio 2016.
The film features interviews with Lang, her family members, as well as Chinese Olympians and members of the 2008 U.S. team.
Previous released documentaries in the Five Rings Films series include:
- The Nagano Tapes, the inspiring underdog story of the Czech Republic’s stunning gold medal win in men’s ice hockey in 1998, directed by Ondrej Hudecek;
- The People’s Fighters examines Cuba’s boxing culture and highlights the career of the legendary Teofilo Stevenson, directed by Peter Berg; and
- The Golden Generation, which spotlights Argentina's historic basketball gold at Athens 2004, directed by Juan Jose Campanella.
- The next Five Rings Films release is about Rulon Gardner, directed by Adam Irving, about the incredible rise, fall, and rise again of the American Olympic wrestling champion.
Offering year-round coverage of Olympic sports and elite athletes in their quest for success, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Olympic Channel over-the-top (OTT) streaming service is available worldwide and subscription-free at olympicchannel.com, its mobile apps and on connected TV devices.
The Olympic Channel is a multi-platform global media destination where fans can discover, engage and share in the power of sport and the excitement of the Olympic Games all year round. Offering original programming, news, live sports events and highlights, the Olympic Channel provides additional exposure for sports and athletes 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in 12 languages.
The Olympic Channel was launched in August 2016 in support of the IOC’s goal, set out in Olympic Agenda 2020, of providing a new way to engage younger generations, fans and new audiences with the Olympic Movement. Founding Partners supporting the Olympic Channel are Worldwide TOP Partners Bridgestone, Toyota, and Alibaba. The Olympic Channel is available worldwide at olympicchannel.com, its mobile apps and on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, and the Roku platform. For more information, please follow the Olympic Channel on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, or log on to OlympicChannel.com.
Five Rings Films, the Olympic Channel’s signature documentary series, is a series of incisive and entertaining documentaries directed by some of the biggest names in film from around the world. In addition to depictions of iconic individuals and record-breaking teams, each feature length film showcases the incredible humanity, variety and achievements of the modern Olympic era.
Five Rings Films is produced exclusively for the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) global media platform by Frank Marshall and Mandalay Sports Media (MSM). Marshall, whose producing credits include legendary titles such as “Jason Bourne", “Jurassic World” and “Indiana Jones” franchises, serves as executive producer alongside MSM’s Mike Tollin and Jon Weinbach whose recent credits include “The Last Dance”. Greg Groggel serves as executive producer for the Olympic Channel.
Organised by Tribeca Enterprises, “We Are One: A Global Film Festival” is an unprecedented 10-day online film festival co-curated by more than 20 film festivals from around the world. All funds raised by the festival benefit the COVID-19 solidarity relief fund for the World Health Organisation (WHO).