February 26, 2009 / 12:29 PM / 10 years ago

Athletics-Li Ning confirm Isinbayeva sponsorship deal

BEIJING, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Russian Olympic champion and pole vault world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva has signed a sponsorship deal with Li Ning, the Chinese sportswear retailer confirmed on Thursday.

No details on the size or length of the deal were available but Isinbayeva, the 2008 female athlete of the year, will attend a news conference in Beijing on Monday to formally announce the deal, a Li Ning spokesperson said.

Sources earlier told Reuters the agreement would be worth $1.5 million annually for five years, a record amount for a track and field athlete.

Li Ning was founded by the 1984 Olympic triple gymnastics gold medallist who last August lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games. It has around 10 percent of the Chinese market.

While Isinbayeva is its first high-profile athletics signee, the company has agreements with National Basketball Association (NBA) players Shaquille O’Neal of the Phoenix Suns and Baron Davis of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Isinbayeva had been under contract to Adidas, the world’s second-largest sports goods maker.

Additional reporting by Gene Cherry, editing by Nick Mulvenney and Alison Wildey

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