Our Privacy Statement & Cookie Policy

By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies, revised Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can change your cookie settings through your browser.

I agree

Bai Yulu: The rise of China's snooker world champion - 'She's defiant and kind'

Mark Ashenden


WATCH: Bai Yulu and her coach reveal their ambitions to CGTN Europe

Clutching two big shiny trophies and unfurling the Chinese flag, Bai Yulu's smile was almost as wide as the snooker table she'd be grafting on for seven days.

It was a fine week's work for the 20-year-old at the Dongguan Snooker Academy, just a few blocks from her home since moving with her parents from Weinan, Shaanxi as a child.

World champion. World Under-21 champion. Not to mention a break of 122, the highest ever made in a women's world final. The millions in China watching on TV and their online devices would no doubt have been cheering their new homegrown sport star.

Li Bianjing has been coaching Bai Yulu since she started snooker 10 years ago. /WPBSA
Li Bianjing has been coaching Bai Yulu since she started snooker 10 years ago. /WPBSA

Li Bianjing has been coaching Bai Yulu since she started snooker 10 years ago. /WPBSA

Bai confessed to CGTN Europe before the tournament that after taking up the sport aged 10, practising and hard work didn't come easy.

Earned her success has been, and Bai has certainly been rewarded – with silverware and a professional tour card, meaning she'll be up against the world's elite – men and women - for the next two seasons.

"I'm really happy about winning the title," she said about her nerve-jangling 6-5 victory over Thailand's world number one Mink Nutcharut.

"I certainly felt the pressure as I was playing in my home country. It was very difficult to come through such a tight match in the final. It's going to be a brand new start for me. I've been working hard to become a main tour player and now I've done it.

"Getting the tour card made me so thrilled because I get to play in the big events in the UK. I hope to maintain a good mindset, try to improve my game and continue to make rapid progress."


Comparisons will continue to grow louder with compatriot and fellow baize superstar Ding Junhui and with China now hosting many more snooker events, the pressure on Bai's young shoulders will only go in one direction.

But the man who has overseen her development since her junior days, coach Li Jianbing, believes his tenacious student will take it all in her stride. A leap up to eighth in the world rankings having played only five of the 17 events that count towards the ranking list would vindicate his confidence.

"It's her dream as a kid come true," Li told CGTN Europe. "She comes from a working class family and has great parents. Back then, there were no examples of training female snooker players for us. She persevered and went through everything, then played in all of the tournaments from smaller ones to big championships.

"She grew to love the game gradually and she's no stranger to pressure. She has that natural spirit of not giving up.

"It's a sport where we think there is not much difference between men and women players and she came to realize that she could make it. It's also her dream to compete on the biggest international stage as a Chinese player."


Where is Flight MH-370?

Meet the 'Chinosaurs'

Why young Chinese are returning to the country

That very stage beckons. On April 8, she'll play in the northern UK city of Sheffield in the World Championship qualifiers as one of the 16 amateurs awarded an entry.

Four wins there and she'll be at the Crucible, the home of snooker, later in April at the World Championships where she could face the likes of seven-time world champion Ronnie O' Sullivan.

Bai's character off the snooker table? "She's an innocent, outgoing and lovely person. She has a defiant nature and she treats people very kindly," her coach added.

Kind away from the baize. Fierce on it. The professional players had better be ready. 

Bai Yulu: The rise of China's snooker world champion - 'She's defiant and kind'

Subscribe to Storyboard: A weekly newsletter bringing you the best of CGTN every Friday

Search Trends