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Former marathon champion auctions medal to support Olympics fund

Updated: 2007-07-30 09:59

"Last time I sell it for a living, but this time it's for 2008 Beijing Olympics, and for those who cared about me," said Ai Dongmei, the retired marathon champion said in a telepone interview with Xinhua on Sunday.

Ai plans to auction one of her most valuable medals in Beijing on August 9, and all the money will be donated to the Olympic Star Fund. The fund was founded by the Red Cross Society of China in April, dedicated to the well-being of retired and physically-challenged athletes as well as potential Olympic stars.

Ai said that she was always grateful to the Olympic Star Fund, since having heard of her predicament, they immediately donated 5,000 RMB to help her out.

The 1999 Beijing Marathon winner Ai sued her former coach Wang Dexian in September last year, seeking 160,000 RMB (21,000 U.S. dollars) as compensation for her injuries incurred during training. Ai also accused him of exploiting her prize money.

In order to fund the case, Ai put all her 19 medals up for sale on line, making headlines in April.

She has been selling children's clothes on streets to make hard living. However, for the sake of upcoming Beijing Olympics and the greater good, according to Ai, she finally gave up the peddling and withdrew all the charges over Wang instead with an out-of-court settlement in mid-June.

"As a Chinese sportswoman, it is an obligation to make our endeavor to Beijing Olympics. Fiddling it may be from individual, but with all the support of whole society, it will be immense. I am better off now, and I ought to pay back," said Ai.

Ai will have a surgery on her deformed feet resulted from excessive training in Beijing on July 30.