Lin Miaoke might be only 9 years old, but she is already well on her way to becoming a star, thanks to her heartwarming performance of Ode to the Motherland at Friday's opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics.
"She is delightful," Atul Dalakoti, executive director of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, told China Daily yesterday in Beijing.
Lin's performance was so charming that even Zhang Yimou, who directed the ceremony, was impressed, her mother Liu Zheping said.
The third-grader at Xizhongjie primary school in Beijing's Dongcheng district got her first taste of celebrity at the age of 6, when she appeared in a television advertisement with actress Zhao Wei, news website Enorth.com.cn said.
Last year, she appeared in a TV ad with reigning Olympic champion hurdler Liu Xiang, and shortly before this year's Spring Festival featured in an advertisement for the Beijing Olympics.
Despite her experience, however, Lin was not an automatic choice for the Bird's Nest show.
In April, she and thousands of other talented tots took part in auditions for the parts of the 56 children who accompanied the national flag into the stadium.
Lin's father Lin Hui, who works as a photojournalist at Beijing's Legal Evening News, said he was not that confident about his daughter's chances until June, when he was told she had made it into the final four.
He then found out she would be singing the lead just 15 minutes before the opening ceremony began, he said.
The 9-year-old songbird said she was thrilled to be part of Friday night's performance, mostly "because I felt so beautiful in my red dress", she told China Daily yesterday.
Lin Hui said he still cannot believe his daughter has become an international singing sensation.
She already has fans all over the country, just three days after her performance, he said.
And it seems her fame is not limited to Chinese mainland. On Saturday, she appeared on the cover of the New York Times.
"But it is too early for Miaoke to be part of the world of entertainment," Lin Hui said.
"As her parents we have to make sure she gets a good education first," he said, adding that the youngster would soon be returning to school.
(China Daily August 12, 2008)