Wen Yong Yang is in his 10th year as a full-time assistant coach, after spending seven years at Rice on a part-time basis.
Wen, who oversees the jumping events for the Owls, is a native of the People's Republic of China and became a United States citizen in November 1996. In China, he worked closely with ex-high jump world record-holder Zhu Jianhua and was China's national coach from 1982 through 1986, when he, his wife, Zu Wei Wang, and daughter immigrated to the United States.
Since coming to the United States, Wen was instrumental in making Rice's Kareem Streete-Thompson the world's second-ranked long jumper in 1994 and the fourth-ranked jumper in 1995. Helping Streete-Thompson reach several plateaus in the long jump, Wen saw Streete-Thompson win the U.S. indoor championships in 1994 and win both the 1995 NCAA indoor and outdoor crowns. Streete-Thompson won a total of seven SWC titles altogether (four indoor and three outdoor), represented the United States in the 1995 World Championships in Goteberg, Sweden, and was a member of the Cayman Islands 2000 Olympic team in Sydney. Streete-Thompson's best mark of 28-3.75 ranks him as the eighth-longest long-jumper in the history of the event.
Last year, Wen had Jason Powell and Devon Fanfair finish two-three in the triple jump at the WAC outdoor championships. Powell went on to win the event at the NCAA regional championships, then claim all-America honors at the 2004 NCAA outdoor championships.
Wen saw three more of his pupils reach success in 2003. Vaughaligan Walwyn and Tommy Oleksy took first and second, respectively, in the long jump at the WAC indoor championships, while Oleksy went on to win the outdoor conference title. Walwyn finished third in the nation in 2002, earning all-America honors. Oleksy was a two-time long jump all-America and a three-time national qualifier in the event, and won the long jump title at the 2001 Drake Relays. He also finished second at both the indoor and outdoor conference meets that same year. Wen coached Drexell Owusu to a total of seven conference titles, including taking both triple and long jump crowns at the 1998 WAC outdoor championhips. Owusu also received all-America honors in the triple jump in 1998, for both the indoor and outdoor seasons.
Rice's high jumpers have excelled under Wen's tutelege. Oleksy and Ryan Harlan are both seven-foot high jumpers, two of six total seven-footers Wen has coached. Oleksy and Harlan have scored at the conference meet the last four years. Oleksy was third at both meets in 2003, while Harlan was fourth at WAC outdoors in 2004. Wen also helped Harlan achieve all-America honors twice in the decathlon, including taking the NCAA crown in 2004. In 2001, Wen saw his pupils finish first, third and fourth at the conference outdoor meet, with Oleksy taking the title, followed by Reed Ballis and Harlan.
Wen has also produced three other SWC champions in the jumping events. Ivory Angello (indoor triple jump from 1993-95, and outdoor triple jump in 1994 and 1995); Nigel Codrington (indoor high jump in 1989) and Ronald Robertson (outdoor long jump in 1991). Robertson was also Wen's first all-America during his storied tenure at Rice.
Under his tutelage, Angello nearly won the USA triple-jump title in 1995, jumping a wind-aided 56-1.25 to finish a close second and qualify for the World Championships team. Angello finished his collegiate career a three-time all-America in the triple jump.
Wen also served as the coach of former American high-jump record-holder Jimmy Howard. A 1988 Olympian, Howard had a best of 7-8.75 in the high jump.
Wen and his wife have one daughter, Lucy, and a son-in-law, Chin Lin, who holds a Ph.D. degree from Rice in biology and physics.