10 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Li Ning’

Sometimes, influential figures in the world of sports transcend boundaries and become synonymous with the sport itself. One such luminary is the Chinese gymnast-turned-entrepreneur Li Ning. Here, we delve into the lesser-known aspects of this extraordinary personality.

1. He’s known as ‘Prince of Gymnastics’

Li Ning’s name is almost synonymous with gymnastics in China. He earned the title ‘Prince of Gymnastics’ due to his extraordinary prowess and agility in the sport. Starting at the tender age of eight, Li Ning began his journey, and there was no looking back.

At the 1982 World Cup, he bagged six of the seven gold medals, which how he got his title. His accumulated 106 medals over his sporting career, out of which, 56 were Gold. This truly marks him as a stalwart figure in the world of gymnastics.

2. He lit the 2008 Beijing Olympics Torch

In a moment of true grandeur and symbolic relevance, Li Ning was the one to light the 2008 Olympic torch in Beijing. As a notable sports personality and genuine national hero, he was the obvious choice for the Chinese Olympics Committee.

He didn’t just light the torch. Suspended from the ‘Bird’s Nest’ Stadium’s ceiling, Li Ning ‘ran’ in the air around the circumference of the stadium before igniting the cauldron. This incredible spectacle stands as one of the most memorable events of the 2008 Olympics.

3. Li Ning is a self-made entrepreneur

After his retirement in 1988, Li Ning didn’t just fade into obscurity. He utilized his popularity to transition into new ventures and successfully transformed himself into an entrepreneur by founding ‘Li Ning Company Limited’ in 1990.

Li Ning Company Limited is an athletic shoe and sporting goods company, known for its high-quality products. It is presently one of China’s leading sportswear brands with more than 6,000 stores globally.

4. Li Ning’s company once entered into a downturn

Despite making a strong start, Li Ning’s company underwent a slump and suffered losses in 2012 and 2013. The reasons cited for this downward turn ranged from fierce competition from global sports brands to a decline in the brand’s image.

In response to this, Li Ning’s Company initiated a comprehensive three-pronged plan: “Transformation, Change, and Breakthrough” to revive the brand. In consequence, the company successfully turned losses into profits, starting from 2016.

5. He was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame

Li Ning’s outstanding accomplishments in gymnastics didn’t go unnoticed by the world. In the year 2000, he was deservedly inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

He is the first and only Chinese gymnast to have had this honor. The International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, based in Oklahoma, USA, commemorates the greatest athletes in this sport.

6. Li Ning took a gamble and won during the 2012 London Olympics

Determined to reestablish its brand image globally, Li Ning’s Company sponsored the U.S. Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson during the 2012 London Olympics. This was a risky move, given that the company was then undergoing operational losses.

The gamble paid off as it thrust the company back into the global limelight. Johnson’s gold medals gave a much-needed boost to the company’s international image and sales.

7. He holds a philanthropic spirit

Li Ning also has a philanthropic side. He has been involved in various charitable activities and has been a major donor for the rehabilitation programs of earthquake victims in China.

He launched the ‘1+N’ charity platform through his company, which aims to integrate resources and promote the development of the sports industry in China. This charitable endeavor stands as an extension to Li Ning’s dedication to sport.

8. Li Ning was the flag-bearer of China twice at the Olympics

It’s a rare honor to bear the national flag at the Olympics. Li Ning took this honor twice, first at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and again at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.

This is a testament to the respect that Li Ning commands in the world of sports and his native land. It also highlights how significant his influence was and remains within China and beyond.

9. He’s known for his famous ‘Li Ning Turn’

Li Ning has not just left a mark with his extraordinary performances and achievements but also with a signature move. The ‘Li Ning Turn’ is a move he popularized, and it has been named in his honor.

This maneuver involves a 1.5 twist into a somersault on a pommel horse. This technically demanding move showcases Li Ning’s technical finesse and unique style.

10. He’s involved in the promotion of a healthy lifestyle

Using his brand and influence, Li Ning actively promotes a healthy lifestyle in China. Through his company’s initiatives, he encourages people to adopt physical exercise and sports as a vital part of life.

Driven by the motto “Anything is Possible”, Li Ning urges individuals to defy their limits and aim to reach their maximum potential, not just in sports, but in every aspect of life.

In conclusion, Li Ning shines as an inspiring mix of athlete, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. His journey from being a gymnast to a successful business tycoon is an example of determination, perseverance, and resilient spirit.

For further reading:
Li Ning’s Sporting Achievements
The Inspiring Journey of Li Ning
Li Ning Company Limited
International Gymnastics Hall of Fame