Also scribbled were the words: “Proud that I was born in the era of Zhu Ting.”
Zhu, named MVP at the Rio 2016 Olympics as she dragged China to gold, has earned numerous adoring nicknames down the years. Many fans call her simply “Queen”.
She is the most prominent sportswoman to emerge in China since Grand Slam-winning tennis player Li Na, with a rags-to-riches life story that has played prominently in the country’s patriotic press.
Despite the attention piled on Zhu, Bai Junhong, an editor of an unofficial online fans’ group, describes her as “low-key”.
She is not the type to boast, Bai says, and does not post often on Weibo — hence why the fan group has 5.2 million followers on the Twitter-like social media platform, compared to Zhu’s 4.1 million.
Bai tells a story of how when Zhu learnt that a fan was terminally ill, she contacted the supporter through social media and sent a signed gift.
“She is a role model — willing to learn, has the courage to try anything and can steel herself to face difficulties when she encounters them,” the 32-year-old Bai said.
“It is a perfect interpretation of the spirit of the women’s volleyball team that the Motherland is supreme, united, tenacious, hard-working and never fails.”