BEIJING - Chinese snooker star Ding Junhui builds up his heroic image again, but this time as a cartoon series hero.
Ding Junhui [Flie photo]
As the first of its kind in China with the hero of a sports star, the 26-episode cartoon series Dragon Ball No.1, based on Ding's growth from a shy boy to a snooker star, is expected to be broadcast on TV in 2010.
The series tells the story of how a nine-year-old boy called Xiao Hui, with the aid of the his family and friends, grew into a snooker player and finally win the world title.
"He is much cuter than me and I can't wait to watch the cartoon," said Ding, referring to his image in the cartoon with red-color hair and robust figure in additional to his super power of playing snooker.
Ding said he wanted to introduce snooker to more Chinese people, especially to the children, through the cartoon.
"But more importantly, I hope the children can learn the importance of team spirit and work hard to realize their dreams as they enjoy the cartoon," he said.
According to Yu Menglai, chief executive officer of the Beijing-based D5 Studio which is in charge of producing the cartoon, they have put Ding's own experience, such as his father leading him to the world of snooker, in the cartoon.
"The hero Xiao Hui, who actually bears Ding's given name, share the same quality as his prototype with strong will and persistence," said Yu.
"Ding's fans may discover another side of their hero from the cartoon -- shy but full of inner power," he said.
Though snooker might not be a native Chinese sport, but Ding's emergence has elicited a huge interest in the sport in China, where World Snooker, the sport's global governing body, says that approximately 50 million of China's population play snooker.
The 21-year-old from east China's Jiangsu province, who started playing snooker at nine, is the youngest player ever to win three ranking titles -- the China Open and UK Championships in 2005 and the Northern Ireland Trophy in 2006.
However, Ding, currently ranked the 11th in the world, is in the midst of form slump, failing to win a major title over the past two years. Now, he spends most of time abroad for training and competitions.
"Others may call my current situation a lowest point of my professional snooker career so far, but I think I'm absorbing 'nutrition' from the loss," said Ding.
"Actually, I think I have improved both on defense and attack skills," he said. "Just like Xiao Hui in the cartoon, I will not give up so long as I still want to become the No.1."