Sunday, 22 July 2012

A new star is born?

Lu Haotian made history today by becoming the youngest winner of the IBSF World Under-21 Championship, aged just 14.

This young lad - already being hailed as a Chinese prodigy - joins a great list of players who have won the title, but to do it so early in a career is remarkable.

Ding Junhui, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Ken Doherty, Peter Ebdon and Neil Robertson are among the names on the trophy since it was made in 1987 and now the test is whether he can go on to enjoy enjoy as much success as them professionally.

With the main tour due to be enlarged to accommodate 128 professionals next season, it's unknown how qualification will be decided and whether winning this tournament still earns professional status.

I imagine it will and Lu will follow in the footsteps of Poland's Kacper Filipiak to play the game professionally at 15.

The age restriction of 16 was removed just last year but still people enter debate about whether it's right for someone so young to take up professional sport.

There's definitely an argument that if you're good enough, you're old enough.

Lu shouldn't be accused of not being good enough. Just this season, he's already taken three frames off of Tom Ford at the APTC1 and two from Fergal O'Brien in the Wuxi Classic wildcard round.

His performances already seem assured and he looks capable enough of mixing it. Watch this video below to see him in action over four frames against Peter Ebdon at the China Open, and decide for yourself whether you think he's good enough.

But there's more to it than just ability. The pressures of playing professional sport, let alone snooker, are immense. It is a very difficult game mentally. Could that take its toll on someone so young? And, what about the young boy's education? Should that be sacrificed at a time when long-term success in the game isn't yet guaranteed?

Plenty to think about.

But for now, Lu should be commended for a great achievement.

No comments:

Post a Comment