He was so outstanding in the parallel bars and the vault that the International Gymnastics Federation named two moves after him - the ‘Li Xiaopeng hop’ in vault and the ‘Li Xiaopeng arm hang’ on parallel bars.
He began gymnastics training at Changsha Sports School in Hunan at the age of six and was a member of the Hunan provincial team by 12. His skill soon set him apart and, at the age of 15, he was selected for the national team. At 16, he became China's youngest world gymnastics champion when he and his team-mates won the men's team final at the 1997 Lausanne World Championships.
He achieved his greatest successes on the parallel bars, winning two Olympic gold medals in Sydney in 2000 and Beijing in 2008 and a bronze in Athens in 2004. He also won two world titles on parallel bars and three World Cups. His other two Olympic gold medals, also in 2000 and 2008, came in the team competition.
One of his outstanding achievements was at the 2003 World Championships in Anaheim when he won three gold medals - parallel bars, vault and team - and was voted 2003 World Gymnast of the Year.
In 2008, after suffering from a serious toe injury, he came back to record the most emotional successes of his career, in front of his own supporters at the Beijing Olympics, where he won gold medals for parallel bars and in the team event.
These were his 15th and 16th world titles – made up of four Olympic gold medals, eight World Championship titles and four World Cups – and meant he had overtaken his idol, Chinese gymnastic legend Li Ning, who won 14 world titles.
He became a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy in 2014 and played a significant part in the success of the 2015 Laureus Awards Ceremony in Shanghai.