Fans sweat over Yao
Nothing depresses Chinese basketball fans more than the news that NBA superstar Yao Ming might not be able to represent China in the forthcoming Beijing Olympics because of a foot injury.
The 2.29-metre centre has been the pride of our country ever since he joined the Houston Rockets in 2002. He is famed for his excellent attitude both on and off the court.
Yao, an only child, was born on September 12, 1980 in Shanghai. His parents were also basketball players.
In 1999, Yao joined the Chinese national team. His superb ball skills and giant figure caught the attention of the NBA's Houston Rockets who signed him up in 2002.
Given his immense popularity, Yao appears in numerous advertising campaigns on the mainland. Yao, who has sponsorship deals with several international companies, has been China's richest celebrity for five consecutive years.
His possible absence from the Beijing Games due to a stress fracture in his left foot has disheartened millions of Chinese fans.
At a Houston news conference in February, Yao expressed his deep dismay over the prospect of missing the Olympics.
'It's too horrible to contemplate ... If I cannot play in the Olympics for my country this time, it will be the biggest loss in my career up to now,' Yao said.