Top 10 Chinese Sports Stars
For the world's most populous nation, you would imagine that China would have its fair share of successful sporting heroes. So who are the country's biggest names in sport today? Our list gives you are Top 10 current Chinese sports stars.
10. Liang Wen-Chong
China’s number one golfer is arguably his country's most successful ever competitor in the sport, taking that mantle from Zhang Lian-Wei. He is the only Chinese golfer to to have ever made the cut at a major and the only one to have reached the top 100 in the world rankings. Amongst his list of career achievements are victories on each of the European, Japanese and Asian tours with the most recent coming in 2013 in the World Manila Masters.
9. Yi Jianlian
Standing seven foot tall, Yi Jianlian is China’s best known basketball player and enjoyed a successful spell in the NBA with a host of teams including the New Jersey Nets and Washington Wizards. Now back where he started at Guangdong Southern Tigers, he has been named the Chinese Basketball Association's Most Valuable Player four years running and remains the captain of the national side. A potential return to the NBA seemed on the cards with the LA Lakers in 2016 but the move later fell through although it would not come as a great surprise to see him back in the States in the near future.
8. Ma Long
China is well known for its status as a producer of World-class Ping Pong players and it continues to dominate the sport. Ma Long is the best in the business right now and has been at the top of the ITTF rankings since March 2015. He has won a staggering five straight ITTF World Tour tournaments in succession and enjoyed similar dominance in 2016 Olympic games in Rio. He cruised to the gold medal and in the process became only the fifth player of all time to complete a career grand slam. In the process he became the first male player to have ever won every single title in his sport.
7. Zheng Zhi
Whilst the Chinese Football League is currently experiencing an influx of highly paid foreign stars, their domestic players are still relatively unheralded however. Zheng Zhi however is undeniably one of their all time greats and is still captain of the national team at the ripe old age of 36. A goal-scoring midfielder, he has played in the Premier League for Charlton during his career and also with Celtic he now captains Guangzhou Evergrande and has helped them to six consecutive Chinese Super League titles.
Despite injury problems in recent years, Zou Kai finds himself on this list due to his impressive gymnastics record over the years. With five Olympic golds to his name and one bronze, he is one of the country's all-time most successful Olympians. He has enjoyed similar success in both the World Championships and also the Asian Games. He was however a notable absentee from the 2016 Olympic gymnastics team and whether or not he will ever make a return and get the chance to add to his medal haul remains to be seen.
5. Sun Yang
In his relatively short career to date, Sun Yang has already enjoyed an astonishing level of success. A total haul of 26 medals, with 15 golds in major international tournaments sees him as China's most decorated swimmer of all time. He can boast of being the first Olympic swimmer to have gold medals in the 200, 400 and 1500 metre freestyle events and holds the Olympic records in both the 400 and 1500 disciplines, achieved at London 2012. With plenty more Olympic and World Championships surely still to come in his career, he could well end up much higher on this list in years to come.
4. Zou Shiming
China’s greatest boxer won back-to-back Olympic golds at light-flyweight in 2008 and 2012 and has three World Amateur Championship titles to his name. After a glittering amateur career he turned pro in 2013 and currently boasts a record of nine wins and one defeat. He has already become the WBO World Flyweight Champion and fought on the undercard of three Manny Pacquiao fights, of whom he shares the same trainer Freddie Roach.
3. Wu Minxia
At the Rio Olympics, Wu Minxia ensured that she would go down in history as she won her fifth gold medal in the 3 metre synchronized springboard. She has also won that event in both the 2013 and 2015 World Championships to give her a record of eight gold medals at the world's. She is now seen as the greatest diver in Olympic history and seemingly broken records at will over the years. Although still currently competing, it seems unlikely she will appear at Tokyo 2020 but when she looks back on her glittering career she will certainly have an awful lot to be proud of.
2. Lin Dan
Thought to be the greatest badminton player of all time, Lin has won everything in the sport including being the first man to retain the men’s singles at the Olympics. When he say everything we literally mean EVERYTHING and prior to turning 30, he had already won all nine major Badminton titles, becoming the first and only man to date to have done so. Rarely has a man dominated a sport like Lin has dominated badminton over the last decade and will forever be a legendary performer in his homeland.
1. Ding Junhui
Ding has broken the British dominance of the snooker world and has even topped the world rankings at one point. He has won a total of 12 major ranking titles, with the most recent being his Shanghai Masters title in 2016 and has also become the first ever Asian player to reach the World Championship final. The 2013/14 was perhaps his most successful single season to date as he equalled Stephen Hendry's record of winning five ranking titles in a single season. He continues to be there or there abouts in nearly all of the major tournaments and is sure to add to his trophy winning haul in the coming years.