Zhang won four gold medals at the 2002 East Asian Games and the 2003 Asian Championships . She became China's first female medalist in a World All-Around competition by winning the bronze medal at the 2003 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Anaheim. She followed this feat by becoming the first Chinese woman to win an Olympic All-Around medal, also a bronze, in Athens in 2004 .
As a member of the Chinese team at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, she helped the team finish 7th and won an individual Bronze Medal in the All-Around competition behind Carly Patterson of the United States and Svetlana Khorkina of the Russian Federation. Zhang also participated in the balance beam event final, her strongest event, but fell once she mounted onto the apparatus. Eventually she placed 6th with a score of 9.237. Without the 0.5 deduction for the fall, she would have edged out Romania's Alexandria Eremia for the bronze.
Zhang won the 2005 Chinese National All-Around title as well as the 2005 East Asian Games title in Macau. At the 2005 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Melbourne, Zhang was hampered with injuries and had to withdraw from the All-Around Final, but she did compete in the Balance Beam final and finished 4th with a score of 9.487.
As a member of the 2006 World Championship team for China, she competed on all four apparatuses and helped the team qualify in 2nd place behind the United States. During the final round of team competition and under a different set of rules, Zhang was instrumental in the Chinese team's eventual victory by completing three exercises. She contributed strong routines on Vault , Balance Beam and Floor Exercise . The win for the Chinese team was its first in history.
Zhang also eventually finished 4th in the Balance Beam final with a score of 15.275. It was a slight disappointment because she had qualified with the top score of 16.075, but had developed an ankle injury after falling down a flight of stairs the day before the competition. It was a similar circumstance and outcome to her finishes in the Balance Beam finals at the 2002 and 2005 World Championships.
Zhang was also a member of the team at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar where the Chinese women captured their seventh-straight team title. Zhang went on to help the Chinese women sweep all but one of the gold medals available in the women's gymnastics competition by winning the Balance Beam title ahead of her compatriot, Han Bing.
Over the course of the two years following the 2006 World Championships, Zhang struggled with keeping up her level of difficulty on her exercises and maintaining her weight. As a result, she did not qualify to the team to represent China at the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. She continued her attempt at a bid to make the Olympic team by increasing her difficulty, but struggling with confidence and consistency, Zhang only managed to win a silver medal on Balance Beam at the 2008 Chinese National Championship in Tianjin, China, partly due to the errors of many of her stronger competitors.
Zhang was named to the Chinese Olympic training squad, but she was not selected to compete for China at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and it is currently unclear whether or not she will continue to compete in Olympic-eligible gymnastics.