“Diving Princes” Guo Jingjing is retiring at 29, several news outlets announced Monday. With four Olympic golds and 10 world titles, the 3-meter springboard diver is one of the most dominant ever in her sport, one of just four divers with four Olympic golds. Her retirement comes as no surpise – Guo has not competed since the 2009 National Games – but it marks the end of a groundbreaking career.
Along with Liu Xiang and Yao Ming, Guo is head and shoulders above her fellow Chinese athletes in terms of star power. And she puts that to work with a host of endorsements — shilling everything from swimsuits to yogurt to laundry detergent. Both
Coca-Cola and McDonald’s featured her prominently in their pre-Olympic ad blitzes.
Diving officials haven’t always been supportive of Guo’s career out of the pool. After the 2004 Olympics in Athens, she was suspended from the team for putting too much energy into commercial activities, and had to make a public self-criticism to get back on the team.
Four years later, her popularity and two-gold medal performance in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing helped Guo move from 28th to 4th on Forbes China’s annual celebrity rankings.
Guo is unlikely to disappear quietly back to her home province of Hebei, or even nearby Beijing. She appears just as frequently in the tabloids as she does in the sports media, and is rumored to be getting married later this year to long-time boyfriend Kenneth Fok, son of tycoon Timothy Tsun-Ting Fok, who also happens to be president of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee.
Tags: diving, Guo Jingjing, sports marketing