Li Ning, “Prince of Gymnasts” and Businessman

Nick Mulvenney reports in the Reuters:

, who lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics after a daredevil highwire act, earned the nickname “Prince of Gymnastics” and won three gold medals before finding success in business.

Through his achievements in the two fields, Li represents the strength of China’s Soviet-style sports system as well as the entrepreneurship and wealth of the country’s new capitalism.

On Friday night, the 44-year-old was lifted high above the 91,000 spectators in Beijing’s Birds Nest stadium, suspended from wires. He circled above their heads, simulating a runner racing around a track in slow motion, before igniting the cauldron with a streak of flame.

… After retiring, he became an international gymnastics judge and earned a law degree from the prestigious Peking University. He also holds an MBA from the same institution.

The company he founded, China’s first national sports goods brand, has around 10 percent of the Chinese market and has also been involved in some controversy.

The brand’s logo is similar to the Nike swoosh, although the company says it represents Li Ning’s initials and his dynamism on gymnastics apparatus.

It was also accused of ambush marketing when, despite not having paid out to sponsor the Beijing Games, it struck a deal that resulted in staff on state broadcaster CCTV wearing the company’s logo during Olympic broadcasts.


Also from Reuters: HK Hot Stocks – Refiners,airlines rise;Li Ning jumps.

Athletic shoe-maker Li Ning (2331.HK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) rose 2.2 percent after its chairman lit the cauldron at the Olympic opening ceremony finale.

The stock had rallied 3.7 percent on Friday amid talk that China’s star gymnast and chairman of the eponymous company would play a key role at the Olympic opening ceremony.

August 11, 2008, 1:18 PM
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