Teen Bingtao makes history

Chinese beats Sajjad to become youngest champion; three-in-a-row for Wendy

Teen Bingtao makes history

Yan Bingtao gave another ample demonstration of China’s rise as the next superpower of world snooker by scoring a path-breaking victory in the final of the Seaways IBSF World Snooker Championship here on Sunday.

A year after compatriot Zhou Yuelong raised the bar by becoming the youngest and first champion from the country at the tender age of 15, Bingtao obliterated that record by lifting the title at just 14.

In a pulsating final that went the full distance, Bingtao showed the snooker skills of a seasoned professional and the mental toughness of a monk in downing Pakistan’s Muhammad Sajjad 8-7 at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium.

“I am elated,” said an exhausted Bingtao through a translator. “Even when I needed to win the last two frames to win the match, I always believed in myself. I wanted to go for my shots. Even if I missed, I (knew) will have a chance to win it next year.”

Wendy Jans also set a record in the women’s section, claiming an unprecedented hat-trick and capturing a record fourth crown by crushing Russian dark horse Anastasia Nechaeva 5-2.

While it was a day to remember for Wendy and Bingtao, 1987 champion Darren Morgan was left heart-broken after the Welshman suffered a bruising 5-6 loss to Thailand’s Phisit Chandsri. It was in Bengaluru where Morgan had won that world title, his return to the City spoiled by the tenacious Chandsri.

Tipped as one of the contenders for the title right from the start, Bingtao showed why he his touted as the next big thing along with bronze medallist Zhao Xintong, producing a spellbinding performance that betrayed his age.

Marginally placed 4-3 ahead after the first session, Bingtao was given a solid workout by the 28-year-old Sajjad in the afternoon session. Patchy and not finding his ‘A’ game until then, the Pakistani came storming back to send out a strong message to the Chinese.

But every time Sajjad seemed to have the match in control, Bingtao, who has quit studies and just plays snooker for nine hours a day at the CBSA-WPBSA Academy in Beijing, brought out all that skills honed to floor the pugnacious Pakistan.

Despite his back to the wall after Sajjad won the 11th, 12th and 13th frames in scintillating fashion to lead 7-6 to turn momentum in his favour, Bingtao remained calm.
Seizing an opening in the 14th frame after on-the-roll Sajjad missed a red that would have helped him post a big break and wrap up the proceedings, Bingtao showcased his enormous talent in the final two frames.

He posted an under-pressure break of 32 points and when he lost position for a colour, engaged himself in a stern safety play tussle with Sajjad before coming out triumphant to level things up.

Sajjad missed a great chance in the decider, presenting Bingtao a chance to create history. While even some of the game’s greatest would have also felt the pressure, Bingtao went about the job as if he was potting in a practice session.

He posted a game-clinching 60-pointer to take a 60-8 lead with three reds left on the table but placed oddly. Sajjad, in need of a snooker to overhaul Bingtao, potted the next two reds before selling the final red to the Chinese.

Biding his time, the teenager sunk it comfortably, clinching his fists in elation as the audience gave a rousing reception to a potential future star.


Results (all finals): Men: Yan Bingtao (Chn) bt Muhammad Sajjad (Pak) 8-7 (71-59, 16-81, 22-75, 67 (61)-53, 77 (77)-13, 4-93 (79), 63-38, 0-86 (73), 76 (76)-9, 70-37, 65 (60)-72 (50), 38-76, 16-107 (60), 72-21, 61 (60)-15).

Women: Wendy Jans (Bel) bt Anastasia Nechaeva (Rus) 5-2 (31-76 (44), 72 (42)-2, 25-65, 74 (40)-35, 72 (43)-32, 82-23, 60-31).

Masters: Phisit Chandsri (Thai) bt Da­r­ren Morgan (Wal) 6-5 (67-59, 73-15, 25-64,  18-55, 16-71, 30-58, 81 (49)-29,  65-44, 57-28, 7-64, 72 (58)-34).

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