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By Frederik Balfour
Corporate sponsors Coca-Cola (KO), McDonalds (MCD) and Adidas have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the Olympics. They and others, such as Nike (NKE), have spent tens of millions more sponsoring Chinese teams and such individual athletes as superstar basketball player Yao Ming and hurdler Liu Xiang. Yao and Liu have dozens of endorsement deals, while other Olympic hopefuls are still relatively obscure. Those who clinch the gold will be looking at fat paychecks in the future, as Chinese and foreign companies spend to link the enormous goodwill and pride associated with the Games to their products.
Here is a selection from some of China 's strongest Olympic contenders, on whom the country is putting great pressure to help China achieve its goal of taking more gold medals than any other nation.