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Xue Chen is a beach volleyball player competing at the 2012 London Summer Olympics for China.

The youngest Olympic beach volleyball medalist, Xue Chen makes her second Olympic appearance in London. She and partner Zhang Xi won bronze at the Beijing Games when Xue was only 19 years, 185 days old. Despite being the youngest team in the tournament (Zhang was 23), the fourth-seeded Xue and Zhang lost only one match — in the semifinals to top-seeded compatriots Tian Jia and Wang Jie in three sets. And the youngsters came extremely close to reaching the final, as Xue and Zhang took the first set from their favored compatriots, 24-22, then had three match points before losing the second game, 27-29. Tian and Wang closed out the third game 15-8. Two days later, Xue and Zhang defeated Brazil's Talita Antunes and Renata Ribeiro for bronze (21-19, 21-17).

Xue is also the youngest player to win an FIVB World Tour event. She and Zhang won their first title in just their second event, the 2006 Shanghai Open, when Xue was 17 years, 99 days old. And Zhang was only 21 years, 39 days old at the time, making them the youngest team to ever win a World Tour event. Xue made her World Tour debut as a 15-year-old in 2004, and became a regular on tour in 2006, her first year with Zhang. The duo has been together ever since, except for 2009, when each woman was paired with a partner from her home province in preparation for the 2009 Chinese National Games, one of the most important sporting events in China.

Xue and Zhang picked up another bronze at the 2011 World Championships, where they lost to Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings in the semifinals (17-21, 21-15, 10-15) before easily defeating Lenka Hajeckova and Hana Klapalova of the Czech Republic for bronze (21-14, 21-12). It was the Chinese pair's second world championship appearance together; they placed fourth at the 2007 Worlds. In 2009, Xue placed ninth at Worlds with Zhang Ying.

Xue and Zhang Xi won two World Tour events their first season, but none in 2007 despite appearing in three gold-medal matches. The duo won its only two finals appearances in 2008, then had a breakthrough season in 2010, as it won three titles and three silver medals. Xue and Zhang appeared in five finals in 2011, winning twice. In nine tournaments this summer leading up to the Olympics, they advanced to four finals and won three gold medals.

Xue says when she teamed up with Zhang, the pairing immediately felt right. "The first time we played together, I was struck with a feeling that I'd never experienced before. That is, I never felt that I wanted to win so bad until I worked with her. I believe it is predestination," Xue says. When asked why she and Zhang play so well together, she says, "We like sister," and adds that they even fight like sisters. "The Chinese team always do everything together, and maybe have some fight, but that's good thing ... The fighting is all about the training things. Like we have different thoughts and need to get together."

During the winter, the Chinese beach volleyball players reside at the national team training center in Sanya, which is located on of Hainan Island. Once a place of exile, Hainan is now a major resort destination. It is on China's southernmost point and was often referred to as "the end of the Earth" by the Chinese. In Sanya, the players live in an apartment complex adjacent to a hotel, where they eat and have access to their own poolside, open-air weight room. Three practice courts are located across the street from their residence. Once the World Tour season ends, the players take a couple weeks off, then typically spend December to February in Sanya.

Since 2005, Xue, Zhang and other Chinese players have spent several weeks each spring training near Los Angeles with Dane Selznick, the former coach of May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings. While in the U.S., the Chinese pair also gets a chance to train against top American and international teams. Prior to the 2012 season, they spent time scrimmaging against May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings and Germany's Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig. In previous years, they have trained against Jen Kessy and April Ross too.

Because of her height, Xue started her athletic career as a basketball player, but said she didn't like the contact nature of the sport. She then played indoor volleyball from age 10 to 13 before switching to the beach. Xue has been a member of the Chinese national team since 2002. In 2010, Xue was listed among CNN's 30 sexiest athletes in Asia.

In her spare time, Xue studies law at Nanjing University in Jiangsu. Because of her hectic travel and training schedule, she says she only has one month for school after the season ends and often completes schoolwork online. During the season she may sneak in a few study hours if she's not too tired. "We very slow. Like the normal students take one year, we need to take two or three years," she says. Outside of school and volleyball, Xue likes to stay home and watch movies.


How tall is Xue Chen? How old is Xue Chen? Where does Xue Chen live? Find out here.

Age: 27 years old
Birthday: February 18, 1989
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 150 lbs.
Birthplace: Fuzhou, China
Current Residence: Sanya, China

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