The 1)Oriental Star——Ding Junhui 东方之星——丁俊晖
When Ding Junhui——“The Oriental Star”took to 2)snooker, he never expected himself to be a world 3)champion, a 4)prodigious millionaire, a national 5)icon and a 6)phenomenon.
“For me it’s not a dream that comes true, as I never dreamed I could do that when I began to play snooker.” Ding said.
Born on April 1, 1987 in Yixing, a city 180 kilometres from Shanghai, snooker superstar Ding Junhui has 7)accomplished an impressive 8)string of victories since 2000.
With impressive victories in the China Open, the UK Championship and the Northern Ireland Open, the 19-year-old Chinese snooker 9)prodigy has become only the second player in history, the first one being Ronnie O’Sullivan, to 10)pull off such 11)feats before the age of 20.
While many snooker fans may easily list the prizes Ding has won, few of them know that he first entered the field as a 12)wild card.
According to his father, Ding Wenjun, who also was a snooker player, he first 13)detected his son’s remarkable talent when Ding was just 8.
“When I was playing with my friends, he was attracted by the colorful balls and would play by himself on another table for a whole day,” said the father. “Then I decided to v14)cultivate his talent.”
In order to ensure that the boy always had a table on which to practice, Ding Wenjun gave up his business and opened a snooker club.
“That way I could reserve a table for my son at any time, and more people would come to play, which would help him practice.” said the father.
In order to further improve Ding Junhui’s skill, the senior Ding decided to bring the boy to Dongguan in Guangdong Province, where the national snooker team trains.
But their stay in Dongguan was to be full of hardships.
Both father and son lived in 15)cramped conditions, sharing a five-square-meter room 16)adjoining the local snooker club.
“It possessed no 17)decent beds, but just a board supported by some 18)abandoned 19)trestles,” recalled the father. “20)Mosquitoes and 21)humidity made it hard to sleep in summer.”
Finally, they ran out of their savings as Ding Junhui took part in more and more competitions. His father had to work as a casual laborer.
“I made a long-distance call to my wife, asking her to sell our house. It was the family’s last possession.” said Ding Wenjun.
Ding usually spent eight to ten hours every day in the 22)poolroom playing snooker alone. He said snooker occupied all his life.
“I sometimes got bored. I also wanted to stop and go out to 23)frolic with other children, but I couldn’t. My parents had given up everything for me, so I had no other 24)options but play snooker. I had to play.”
Their 25)tremendous efforts finally paid off in April 2005, when Ding claimed the title of China Open champion as a wild-card 26)entrant. He caused a 27)sensation in December 2005 when he beat Nuggets Steve Davis to win the UK Open. Ding became the first ever player from outside the British Isles to win the UK Championship.
These two world titles made him a household name in China and 28)sponsorship began 29)pouring in.
“Ding Junhui is now a national icon and rated in recognition only behind NBA player Yao Ming and world 30)hurdle record holder Liu Xiang,” said Fan Rongjian, vice president of Beijing Star Group, which is the leader of China’s snooker industry.
While the world cheered his success, Ding’s competitors also gave a 31)thumbs-up for this remarkable young man.
“It was only a matter of time before he joined the sport’s 32)elite,” said Steve Davis, the six-time World Champion who was beaten 10-6 by Ding in the final of the UK Championship.
Even now, having reached the heights in world snooker, Ding practises as hard as ever——eight hours a day from 10 am to 6 pm, without a day off.
Ding Junhui said he felt lucky to have the chance to play against world-class opponents.
“They each have their own style. Only by dealing with each of them will I become fully prepared in any situation.” said the young man.
Ding said that being the only Chinese superstar in world snooker was lonely, at times.
“I hope there will be many more Chinese players in the future who perform well in the major 33)tournaments, and I believe there will be.” he said.
As a matter of fact, Ding is 34)mature for his age and looks very relaxed on the big stage. According to Ding Wenjun, the most remarkable feature of his son is that he keeps a cool head, an important characteristic for a snooker player.
“His cool-headedness and 35)modesty help him to play 36)steadily in every match.” said the father.
“Though he is 19 years old, indeed he is not grown-up. When back at home, he likes to play video games and adores teddy bears. He is still a child now making up for what he had lost in his childhood.” said his mother.
In his spare time, Ding likes to watch Jackie Chan movies and enjoys swimming.
“Both of them bring me total relaxation.” he said.