Li Ning shares soar in HK after Olympic opening

Aug. 11, 2008, 2:11 a.m. (ET)

HONG KONG (AP) Shares of Li Ning's sportswear company soared Monday after the Chinese star athlete drew world attention as the final torchbearer in the Beijing Olympics.

Hong Kong-listed Li Ning Co., China's largest footwear and apparel company, saw its stock climb 5 percent to HK$18.5 (US$2.37) in morning trade.

The 44-year-old former gymnast mesmerized Olympic viewers Friday when he ran a victory lap around Beijing's National Stadium's upper rim while suspended by cables before lighting the Olympic cauldron.

Li's company dominated China's sportswear market for much of the 1990s, though it's been displaced by Nike and Adidas in recent years. The company is now focused on recapturing market share at home while trying to go global.

Li became one of China's most famous athletes after taking three gold medals, two silvers and a bronze at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.