Badminton legend Li Lingwei wins IOC seat
Former badminton world champion Li Lingwei of China never had the chance to compete at the Games during her playing career, but yesterday she won an Olympic 'gong' when she was elected a member of the organisation's governing body.
At the International Olympic Committee (IOC) committee meeting held at Grosvenor House Hotel in London, she and four other former stars, including former 200m sprint medallist sprinter Frank Fredericks of Namibia, were elected to the IOC.
In recognition of her new status, she was presented with an 'IOC gold medal' by the body's president Jacques Rogge. She received 83 votes from 94 members.
'It is a very special moment and a great honour for me as a retired athlete and coach,' said the 48-year-old from Zhejiang province.
'You can say it's some sort of compensation for what I missed in my sporting career, which ended without an Olympic gold medal because I retired from sport before badminton was admitted to the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992.
'I am also delighted to be given the opportunity to serve sport from another platform, a great platform.
'There were many quality players from my era but not too many of them have this opportunity.
'I am just one of the lucky ones.' Members of the IOC represent and promote the interests of the Olympic movement in their respective countries and in the organisations of the Olympic movement in which they serve.
They also help select the host city of the Olympic Games (summer and winter) every seven years.
The number of IOC member has now been increased from 105 to 110 with this election, which also includes Hong Kong Olympic supremo Timothy Fok Tsun-ting.
'Li was a very famous athlete in her younger days and has served sports for many years,' said Fok. 'She has gained vast popularity in her sport and we are happy to see her join our ranks as an IOC member.'
Li has been rated among the greatest in the history of women's badminton and was inducted into the Badminton Hall of Fame in 1998.
She is one of the most successful players at the world championships, winning three gold medals, two of them in singles and another in the doubles with her partner Han Aiping. Together, they dominated international badminton until Li retired in 1989.
Li was one of the five retired athletes who were chosen to hold the Olympic flag and march into the opening ceremony at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She is currently the deputy director of the Tennis Administration Centre of China.
World titles mainland badminton legend Li Lingwei won in her playing career