BEIJING, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Three prominent sports figures feature among a list of 100 people to be awarded for their contributions to China's ongoing reform and opening-up.
The three former athletes are shooter Xu Haifeng, women's volleyball player Lang Ping, and basketball star Yao Ming.
Born in 1957, Xu Haifeng was the first Chinese athlete to win an Olympic gold medal when he finished first in the men's 50m pistol competition at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
57-year-old Lang Ping is an icon of Chinese women's volleyball. She led the Chinese team to gold at the 1982 World Championships and the Los Angeles Olympics, as well as back-to-back FIVB World Cups in 1981 and 1985.
After her retirement, Lang was admitted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2002. She took the reins of the Chinese team in 2013 after leading Team USA to a runner-up finish at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
In 2016, Lang guided the Chinese team to gold at the Rio Olympic Games, becoming the first Chinese volleyballer to win the Olympic gold medal as player and coach.
Yao Ming, 38, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, becoming the first and so far only Asian player to achieve that feat.
His eight-season NBA stint with the Houston Rockets did much to promote the sport of basketball both in China and overseas, enhancing the mutual understanding among people between China and the United States, as well as other countries.
After his retirement from professional basketball in 2011, Yao was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016. He became the president of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) in 2017 to orchestrate key basketball reforms in the country.
In addition to sports personalities, the 100 candidates selected by the Communist Party of China (CPC) encompass a wide range of professions, including scientists, economists, grass-roots Party cadres, model workers, state firm managers, and private entrepreneurs.
They are chosen nationwide through local recommendation and several rounds of review under the guidance of the CPC, with the public also invited to voice their opinions to the awarding office until November 30.