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Li-Ning to clothe four national teams
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While Nike will outfit the bulk of China's Olympic athletes, local sporting apparel giant Li-Ning will provide gear for four major Chinese teams, including table tennis, diving, gymnastics and shooting.

Li-Ning has provided clothing for Chinese athletes at Olympic awards ceremonies since the Barcelona Games in 1992, so the new sponsorship deal is a positive step forward for the company.

The company will emphasize new technologies and fashion in designing the outfits. A team of more than 100 people took two years to research and develop the outfits in Beijing, Hong Kong and the US.

The outfits will all feature an artistic curved letter L (for Li-Ning). The design is known as the "Lucky Line" and is the thematic element of the suits. Zippers are made of pure gold and are shaped like tiny medals. Each athlete's name will also be carved into the reverse side of the zipper.

Some other Chinese cultural elements have been incorporated into the design, such as the color red and images of a dragon, peony and a phoenix.

"We have done a lot of functional analysis, like researching body movement, moisture management and body heat control," said Guo Jianxin, Li-Ning's chief operating officer.

"We can proudly say that Li-Ning's suits will go onto the highest podium with the athletes who wear them."

Li-Ning will also apply advanced materials such as "x-tra life lycra" and "coolmax" to the outfits' design. These materials will help maintain the suits' shapes and keep athletes' bodies cool.

Special designs were added based on the requirements of specific sports. In the diving suit, for example, a water channel was added to the back to help reduce splash.

Athletes are pleased with the new suits.

"I like the color of the diving suit and I believe it could show our delicate diving movements in the pool," said Olympic diving champion Guo Jingjing. "The gold medal on the zipper is also good for us. I will try to perform at my best with the suit."

Besides the four Chinese teams, Li-Ning also provided suits for several foreign teams, including Spain, Sweden, Argentina's basketball team and the US table tennis team. It will be the most foreign teams to wear the Chinese brand in Olympic history.

(China Daily July 16, 2008)

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