Ding Junhui (丁俊晖), born on April 1, 1987 in Yixing City of Jiangsu Province, is a Chinese professional snooker player with the nickname of "snooker prodigy" for taking the third place at an Asian invitational contest when he was 13 years old.
He has been described in the British press as the "Star of the East." He is an introvert, but is eager to put his best foot forward. He is a boy who is soft on the outside but tough on the inside.
He began to play billiards at the age of eight. In May 2002, the 15-year-old boy won his first gold medal for China at the Asian Billiards Championships to become Asia's youngest champion.
On August 31 the same year, he won the World Junior Billiards (Snooker) Championship to become China's first world billiard champion.
At the Asian Games in October, he defeated a Thai player 3:1 to win the snooker singles gold medal, thus putting an end to China's history of winning no billiard gold medal at the Asian Games.
He also joined his teammate to become the team runner-up in the billiards event at the Asian Games.
He ranked third at the World Billiards Championships held in Egypt from October 20 through November 2, 2002 to equal China's veteran player Guo Hua's bronze medal record in 1997.
On December 15, 2002, the Chinese Billiards Association conferred on Ding the "Chinese Billiard Special Contribution Trophy."
Ding Junhui defeated Mark Williams, who ranked No. 1 in the world at the time, twice in the Hong Kong and Bangkok legs of the Euro-Asian Masters' Series in August 2003. He became a professional in September 2003.
In February 2004, the magnificent moments of Ding defeating Joe Perry, who had a world ranking of No. 16, 6:3 to qualify as one of the 16 best players of the Wembley Masters helped British TV viewers to get to know and take a liking of the Billiards boy from the East overnight.
In early 2005, Ding played at the Wembley Masters to become one of the eight best players.
In April, he defeated Peter Ebdon, Marco Fu, Ken Doherty, and Stephen Hendry at the China Open of the International Billiards & Snooker Federation Ranking Series to win the top place.
In December, Ding Junhui again beat all the high-ranking players at the English Championships to win the title.
The significance of Ding's success lies not only in the fact that he has changed the face of Chinese billiards. His development and training methods have evoked wide discussion, and have even aroused debate about the mode of sports training for talented athletes.
Ding's development is different from that of most of the other Chinese athletes who have been trained in the traditional pattern of "spare-time sports school -- sports school -- provincial sports training team -- national team."
Ding was sent abroad by his father with his own financial resources. His road to success has been stamped with his personal brand, and is now called the "Ding Junhui pattern."