Li Ning (Chinese: 李宁) is a well-known and well-respected Chinese gymnast and entrepreneur. His Olympic fame helped him build a sporting-goods empire after retirement.
Li was born on September 8, 1963 in Liuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Li is most famous for winning six medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, including three gold medals (floor exercise, pommel horse, and rings), two silver (team, vault), and a bronze (all-around). In 1982, he won six of the seven medals awarded at the Sixth World Cup Gymnastic Competition, earning him the title "Prince of Gymnastics."
In his 19-year athletic career, Li garnered 106 medals. His ability to represent a newer, more confident nation was not confined to the pommel horse and the rings. When Li retired in 1988, Li did not—as might be expected of Chinese sportsmen of his stature—become coach to the next generation of superstar gymnasts. Instead, in 1990, he started a sporting-goods business named after himself—an act of trumpet-blowing that was virtually taboo in an era when individual athletic reputations were still second to national glory. But the Li Ning Company has flourished.
Li Ning Company Limited has become one of the leading sports brand enterprises in China, possessing brand marketing, research and development, design, manufacturing, distribution and retail capabilities. Now Li has his eyes set on the worldwide market for affordable shoes, and has signed basketball legend Shaquille O'Neal as a pitchman.
Li was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2000, becoming the first Chinese inductee.
At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Li Ning ignited the cauldron at the opening ceremony after being hoisted high into the air with cables and running around the high portion of the stadium.
Men's Artistic Gymnastics
Gold 1984 Los Angeles floor exercise
Gold 1984 Los Angeles pommel horse
Gold 1984 Los Angeles rings
Silver 1984 Los Angeles team competition
Silver 1984 Los Angeles vault
Bronze 1984 Los Angeles all-around