‘The female Yao Ming’: Excitement builds in China over 14-year-old basketball player standing 2.26m tall

·2-min read
Representational: A basketball game in which Zhang Ziyu was playing has gone viral (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Representational: A basketball game in which Zhang Ziyu was playing has gone viral (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A video of 14-year-old Zhang Ziyu playing basketball at a championship game has gone viral in China, earning her comparisons with the country’s basketball legend Yao Ming.

Ziyu, who despite her age already stands at 2.26 metres tall (7ft 5in), is from eastern China's Shandong province.

In a video from China's National U15 Women's Basketball League final, she can be seen towering over the other players.

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She began trending on Weibo — the Chinese equivalent of Twitter — after she helped her team win the title by scoring a total of 42 points, Chinese media reported. Ziyu captured 25 rebounds and blocked six shots.

Her parents, who are both former professional basketball players, are shorter than her. Her father and mother are 2.13 metres and 1.9 metres tall respectively, reported Xinhua.

Ziyu’s performance in the game led social media users to compare her to Yao Ming, who is 2.31 metres tall, and urged her to follow in Yao’s sizeable footsteps.

Ziyu can become “the female Yao Ming” and lead China's women's basketball team one day, was the general consensus among excited basketball fans online.

One of the users on Weibo wrote: “The future of the Chinese women's basketball counts on you.”

There were some others who thought the competition was not fair with Ziyu on the court, with one calling it a “one sided victory”, according to the Global Times, a Communist Party-run newspaper.

Ziyu was already 1.6 metres tall (5ft 3ins) when she began elementary school, and had grown to 2.11 metres by the time she graduated to high school.

Some on Chinese social media wondered aloud just how much taller she will become in the coming years. “She is just 14 years old. What will be her height when she reaches 20 or 22?” a user said.

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