'Father figure' Ding extends influence

2021-01-04 12:07:05

China's former world No 1 Ding Junhui has been elected to the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association's inaugural players board of directors. XINHUA Ding Junhui has come a long way since being the subject of a popular animated series on China Central Television a decade ago. In 2010, the 26-episode Dragon Ball No 1, produced by Beijing-based D5 Studio, focused on Ding's journey from a shy boy in Yixing, Jiangsu province, to international snooker superstar. Now, as the newest member of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association's inaugural players board of directors, the 33-year-old will have a voice in the sport's global governance. Ding's election, held in conjunction with the WPBSA's online annual meeting on Dec 23, was saluted by chairman Jason Ferguson. "For over 15 years Ding has been a trailblazer for our sport in Asia following his landmark victory at the 2005 China Open, and at last year's UK Championship he reminded everybody of his class by claiming the title for a third time," said Ferguson. "Away from the baize he continues to play a significant role in our sport, having become almost a father figure to many of the young Chinese players competing on the World Snooker Tour. "Already he has represented players in China on behalf of our colleagues at the China Billiards &Snooker Association. "In this new formalized role, I am sure he will not only be a fantastic representative for Asian players, but for all players who travel great distances living away from home within our sport. "Part of our vision is to increase global representation within key roles, and I am delighted to see this is now becoming a reality." A former world No 1, Ding has won 14 major ranking titles, including two Shanghai Masters and one German Masters. Representing China at the Asian Games, he has won five gold medals in individual and team events, and in 2016 he became the first Asian player to reach the final of the world championship. At the 2007 Masters, Ding became the youngest player to make a televised 147 break, going on to reach the final before losing to Ronnie O'Sullivan. His victory over O'Sullivan in the last 16 of the 2019 UK Championship marked the British legend's first loss in the competition since 2016. Ding is currently ranked No 9 in the world. Meanwhile, after being excluded from the 2024 Paris Olympics, cue sports could be part of the 2028 Games in Los Angeles. In 2018, snooker, billiards and pool fell short of the required number of votes for this year's pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics, where skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing will debut. Ferguson termed the most recent snub "extremely disappointing" for snooker and billiards fans throughout the world, but said the WPBSA is working on a major bidding campaign for 2028 and is united in its approach to bring Olympic recognition to the sport.