Source: Xinhua

08-09-2008 00:55

BEIJING, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- In the most spectacular fashion in Olympic history, China's gymnastics legend Li Ning lit the Beijing Olympic cauldron after "space-walking" around the 91,000-seat National Stadium on Friday night.

Li Ning lights cauldron of Beijing Olympics

Li was lifted by wires to the top of the 91,000-seat stadium, space-walked the circumference and used his torch to send a burst of flame upward to light the Olympic cauldron.

The 45-year-old Li was China's first superstar in sports. He became a national hero by sweeping three gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, in which the new China made a stunning appearance that ended the country's three-decade-long Olympics isolation.

Hailed as "Gymnastics Prince", Li garnered 106 national and international title over 17 years as a competitor.

Li peaked in the LA Olympics, winning three golds, two silvers and one bronze to become the most-medaled athlete in that games.

But his ability to represent a newer, more confident China was not confined to the pommel horse and the rings.

Staying true to the Olympic motto "Faster, Higher, Stronger", Li sets his sight on a bigger picture and never stops challenging himself.

In 1986, Li Ning retired from the national team right after the Asian Games in Seoul, but he did not become coach as expected.

Shifting his interest to business, he started his own sportswear company, astute enough to take advantage of his own fame.

At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Li-Ning was chosen to clothe the Chinese delegation.

By 1995, Li-Ning had emerged as a front-runner in China's sporting goods industry. In 2005, with Li-Ning still in the lead and its sales hitting record highs, the ambitious Li set his sight on becoming a top international brand.

Born in 1963 in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in south China, Li Ning took up gymnastics at the age of eight.

Recruited at 17 by the national team, Li snatched six gold medals at the Zagreb World Cup in October 1982.

In 1987, Li became the only Asian member of the Athletes' Commission of the International Olympic Committee.

From 1993 to 2000, Li had been working on the Men's Artistic Gymnastics Technical Committee of the Federation Internationale De Gymnastique.

Li was voted in 1999 as one of the World's Top Athletes in the 20th Century by the World Sports Press Association.

Li obtained a bachelor degree in law from Peking University in 1998 and completed the MBA program at the Guanghua School of Management of Peking University in 2002.

As Li-Ning's slogan "Anything Is Possible" goes, Li Ning was chosen, instead of Olympic champion Liu Xiang, Yao Ming or "Mr. Olympics" He Zhenliang, for the ultimate honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron.


Editor:Zhang Ning