Michelle Kwan
Evan Agostini  /  ASSOCIATED PRESS
Figure skater Michelle Kwan arrives at the Women's Sports Foundation's 28th Annual Salute to Women in Sports at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Monday, Oct. 15, 2007 in New York.
Associated Press Sports
updated 7/23/2008 4:10:37 PM ET 2008-07-23T20:10:37

Michelle Kwan will be among seven members of the presidential delegation to the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

President George W. Bush announced the delegation, to be headed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The president also on Wednesday listed Kwan, a two-time figure skating medalist at the Winter Olympics who has made several trips to China on behalf of the U.S. government as a diplomacy envoy.

Kwan attends Denver University, where she is majoring in international studies.

“I’m enrolled in summer classes right now: three classes, 15 units,” Kwan said. “I spoke to my professors and told them I’d have to miss the last two days because I’m part of the delegation to the Olympics closing ceremony. Luckily, they said I can make it up and turn in my papers later on.

“It’s such an honor and so thrilling. And to be with three members of the Cabinet and Karen Hughes and Peter Ueberroth ...”

Joining Rice and Kwan in the delegation will be Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao; Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael O. Leavitt; Clark T. Randt, Jr, the U.S. ambassador to China; U.S. Olympic committee president Peter Ueberroth; and Karen Hughes, global vice chair of Burson-Marsteller.

Kwan, who has Chinese ancestry, has made several trips to China in an unofficial diplomatic role, once accompanying Hughes, then under secretary of state.

Also, one of her professors at Denver once taught Rice and mentioned it to Kwan when she was chosen for the delegation.

Kwan’s visits to China never have been as high-profile as this one figures to be. The nine-time U.S. champion and five-time world winner previously represented President Bush at the Special Olympics in China.

She has been impressed by the nation’s preparations for next month’s games.

“China has really gone in a positive direction in opening their doors and telling the world they are here,” she said. “They have developed and come a long way. I think after the Olympics, people will be so impressed they will want to come back and visit because they had a great experience.”

Although she has not been told what her duties will be in Beijing, she expects to see several events during a nearly two-week stay.

“There are so many things I want to do,” Kwan said. “Watch basketball, of course — there are a few people I know on the team. Gymnastics, swimming — I’ve never seen swimming or diving in person. Volleyball and beach volleyball. I’ll get to as many events I can.

“I love sports and I am an athlete. When you see athletes doing their best and trying their hardest and you personally know how much it takes to make that performance at that moment the best they can perform, it’s very special to watch.”

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