Top 10 Most Famous Modern Chinese Athletes

Ranking the top 10 most famous Chinese athletes is no easy task. I think there is no doubt that Yao Ming is the most popular athlete in China, but how about other athletes, who are also popular in the country? Below are my picks of the 10 most famous Chinese athletes.

1. Deng Yaping 邓亚萍

Deng Yaping picture

Deng Yaping (born in 1973) achieved great success as a world-class table tennis athlete. She has won six world championships and four Olympic championships between 1989 and 1997. She is regarded as one of the greatest table tennis players in the world.

2. Ding Junhui 丁俊晖

Ding Junhui

Ding Junhui (born in 1987) is a Chinese professional snooker player. Ding is China’s most successful player ever, having grown to be only the second adolescent to win three ranking titles after John Higgins.

3. Guo Jingjing 郭晶晶

Guo Jingjing

Guo Jingjing (born in 1981) is the most famous female diver in China, known in China as “The Princess of Diving” . Guo has won the most Olympic medals of any female diver and she won the 3m springboard event at five consecutive World Championships.

4. Li Na 李娜

Li Na

Li Na (born in 1982) is a Chinese professional tennis player. Li gained nine WTA singles titles in total, the most famous ones are the Grand Slam singles titles at the 2011 French Open and 2014 Australian Open. She was the only Grand Slam singles champion from Asia.

5. Lin Dan 林丹

Lin Dan

Lin Dan (born in 1983) is a well-known Chinese badminton player. He won Olympic champion for two times, and gained world champion for five times. With great performance, he is nicknamed “Super Dan” for by his fans.

6. Liu Xiang 刘翔

Liu Xiang

Liu Xiang (born in 1983) is a Chinese 110 meter hurdler. Liu won the 110 meter hurdler champion at 2004 Athens Olympic Games and World Champion. He also broke the 110 meter hurdler record with a time of 12.88 seconds in Lausanne, Switzerland in 2006.

7. Pan Xiaoting 潘晓婷


Pan Xiaoting (born in 1982) is the first Chinese pool player to play full-time on the WPBA tour. She became so popular in China not only for her increasing achievements in billiards but also for her beauty. She is dubbed “Queen of Nine-Ball” by Chinese media.

8. Yao Ming 姚明

Yao Ming

Yao Ming (born in 1980) is the most famous Chinese basketball player. He played for the Houston Rockets of NBA from 2002-2011 and became one of the world’s renowned NBA players. Yao was chosen to play at the Western Conference in the NBA All-Star Game for eight times, and was named to the All-NBA Team five times.

9. Yi Jianlian 易建联

Yi Jianlian

Yi Jianlian (born in 1987) is a professional Chinese basketball player who mainly plays for Chinese Guangdong Team. He has also played in several American NBA teams including Milwaukee Bucks, New Jersey Nets, Washington Wizards, and Dallas Mavericks. He is the second most famous modern Chinese basketball player just after Yao Ming.

10. Zhang Yining 张怡宁

Zhang Yining

Zhang Yining (born in 1981) is a female Chinese table tennis player. She has won four Olympic gold titles, nine World Championships and four World Cup.  Zhang is regarded as one of the most successful female table tennis players in the history.

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