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7ft 5in-Tall, 14-year-old Chinese girl hailed as “New Yao Ming”

Zhang Ziyu, a 14-year-old basketball player from Shandong, China, has been getting a lot of attention for her unusual height (2.26 m) and has been compared to Chinese basketball legend Yao Ming.

Photos and videos circulating online for the past week show Zhang Ziyu towering over teammates and opponents alike at an under-15 tournament in Jingzhou, where she also happened to score 42 points in a game, as well as 25 rebounds and six blocks. Chinese media reported that Zhang’s parents were both professional basketball players, yet her stature is surprising, especially considering her age. She is already taller than both her father (2.13 m) and her mother (1.98 m).
According to the Global Times newspaper, Zhang Ziyu was already 1.6 meters tall in first grade and has grown to a staggering 2.1 meters in sixth grade. At fourteen, with several more years of natural growth ahead of her, the teenage girl is already approaching the prestige of Chinese basketball superstar Yao Ming (7ft 6in/2.29m).

“The future of Chinese women’s basketball is counting on you,” wrote another.

But Zhang Ziyu has more than just height to her. Coming from a basketball family, she has been practicing the sport since she was just 5 years old, training under the watchful eye of her mother, a former member of the China national team.

Sports experts agree that if Zhang continues her training, she has a bright future in basketball, but psychologists have warned that the height difference between her and the other children her age can cause social problems, and asked to protect the girl from bullying .

Zhang Ziyu’s incredible stature reminded us of other basketball prospects we had in the past, such as Robert Bobroczky, who was 7-foot-7 when he was just 16 years old, when we wrote about him in 2017, or Olivier Rioux, who age 12 was already 6-foot-11.

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