Anthony Hamilton will play in the WST Pro Series today. He has been interviewed by Phil Haigh and has also answered fans questions on twitter via Phil Haigh’s account.
In this interview he explains how he is still struggling with the aftermath of covid-19 and how a positive attitude is helping him through the difficult times.
Anthony Hamilton talks still feeling the effects of Covid, his American alter-ego and a move into commentary
Two months after testing positive for Covid-19, Anthony Hamilton is still feeling the effects but is back in action this weekend as he looks to get his season back on track.
Hamilton can count himself especially unlucky to contract the virus after spending months shielding and barely leaving the house due to having asthma therefore increasing the risk of Covid.
The Sheriff of Pottingham famously qualified for the World Championship over the summer but decided competing wasn’t worth the risk and pulled out, a decision which he did not take lightly as he turned down a first visit to the Crucible since 2008.
Having returned to competition, the 49-year-old was forced to withdraw from the UK Championship in November after testing positive for Covid-19.
Two months later and he is still not back to 100 per cent, admitting that even when playing again in December, he was struggling to stand by the end of a best of seven match.
‘I still have got the lingering effects, like a lot of people have,’ Hamilton told Metro.co.uk. ‘Fatigue and breathlessness. I’m better than I was, it’s getting gradually better, but I’ve been knocked for six a bit.
‘About two months since I had it now. I played a match just before Christmas, it was only a best of seven, but I definitely flagged towards the end, I could almost not stand up.
‘I was like, “Jesus, this is more serious than I thought it was.” It’s only a short drive back from Milton Keynes but it felt like driving back from Glasgow.’
The match Anthony is referencing is a 4-3 loss to Eden Sharav in the Scottish Open, which proved to him how hard the virus had hit him.
‘I felt good up to 2-2, but then I was just hanging on,’ Hamilton explained.
‘Before Covid I was getting really fit, it’s weird for me, but I was feeling quite good. I was doing 80 miles a week on the exercise bike, I felt great.
‘But the contrast from then to now is night and day, it’s like I didn’t do anything for those six months, it’s been wiped out.
‘I used to feel like this in my 30s when I was in the pub all the time, I’m too old for that now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m up for the pub but I don’t want to go to work feeling s**t. It’s lose lose.
‘I still think I’ve been lucky, it’s just annoying that it gets in the way of every day life, but that’s hardly a hardship compared to some people. Yeah, I feel like crap, but you have to have a word with yourself, it could be a lot worse.’
It’s been a tough year for everyone and Hamilton is keeping a smile on his face despite everything, feeling that a 30-year professional snooker career helps you deal with disappointment.
‘I’ve definitely had enough of all this, we all have,’ Anthony said of the pandemic. ‘But I’m half used to feeling frustrated and depressed from being a snooker player for 30 years.’
The Sheriff feels that there are people to blame for the state the country is in right now, and has some strong words for the Government and how they have handled the crisis.
‘It’s unfortunate that we’re living in the country that’s dealt with it the worst in the world,’ he said. ‘Nothing makes any sense, people are dying, it’s frustrating that we’ve let fops run the country.
‘We’ve let the upper class take over politics and now we’re paying for it. Obviously America have just had the worst character in the history of politics and we’ve probably got the second worst, you’re probably looking at Pol Pot for number three!’
One positive of having caught the virus for Hamilton is not having to be quite as intensely strict about shielding as he was for much of 2020.
The Sheriff was barely leaving his home before, washing anything and everything he touched and he is now allowing himself to be slightly more relaxed after a positive test.
‘I’m not shielding like I was before, not quite so military about cleaning everything,’ he explained. ‘Obviously the positive about having it is I should be safe for a while.
‘I’ve let my brain chill out for a while and not clean every door handle I’ve touched, that’s a relief.
‘It was taking me 40 minutes or so to clean the table before I started practice, even though no one was really on it. The cloth, cushions, rails, balls, it was a ball ache. So now I’ve just been getting my cue out and playing, which is nice.’
Helping Hamilton through this trickiest of years is a positive attitude he forced himself to adopt since he turned 40-years-old.
There is nothing complicated to the plan, Anthony just chooses to look on the bright side of things when it comes to snooker, which he feels anyone can replicate.
The former German Masters champion knows that the unwavering positivity doesn’t necessarily come naturally to him, so he holds a cliched image of an ultra-cheery American in his mind for him to take on while at the table.
‘The most underused part of coaching in snooker is the mental side, everyone thinks about the cue action and stuff, but I’ve realised myself in the last eight or nine years, I’ve started skinning the cat in a different way,’ Anthony said.
‘I can’t possibly play good snooker anymore, but I can make up the deficit with better thought patterns and positivity.
‘Jesus Christ, I can’t believe how much you can get out of just doing the right things mentally. I just came up with it myself, I took things on board from years ago when I was coached by Terry Griffiths, but it’s mainly doing the hard work.
‘People don’t realise how hard it is to do the right things when things aren’t going your way, it’s not human nature to think positive when things are negative all the time, but that’s the only way to be if you want to get out of the bad situation.
‘I’ve taught myself to do the right things while I’m out there in the match, there is literally no point in being disappointed during the match because that’s not going to get me a result.
‘I can be as disappointed as I want in the car on my way home, but while I’m out there, stay positive, even if I’m getting pumped, you never know. Honestly, it didn’t take long for matches to start turning my way.
‘I wish I’d done this when I was a good player. If I’d done that in my 20s and 30s, before I’d got injured, I think I’d be retired on a beach somewhere now.
‘It’s no more complicated than just deciding to be positive. I equate it to being American, everything’s great all the time, I just tell myself to be American.
‘I’ve just missed the black off the spot, don’t worry everything’s great, what’s next? It’s gone. It works and it works immediately.’
Hamilton has been struggling with neck problems for years, which means he cannot produce the snooker he did in the past, but his American alter-ego keeps him very competitive.
‘The more you do it the more it works,’ he said. ‘Before you know it you’ve turned four or five matches around in a year that you never would have won in a million years.
‘It makes you feel invincible. Even if you get beat you can feel happy because you know there’s nothing more you could have done. It’s when you come away and you know you’ve let your head drop in the middle of a match, then you drive home and you hate yourself because you know you could have given a bit more.
‘It’s the same as practicing the physical part of the game, you have to keep doing it all the time because it’s unnatural to be positive all the time, especially someone who’s realistic and cynical.
‘I just take on the American persona while I’m playing, everything’s great, then on the way home, go back to British and call myself a s**t c**t then. It works immediately, I love it.’
The four-time World Championship quarter-finalist has no intention of hanging his cue up any time soon and is still ranked #46 in the world, despite his troubles with Covid over the last 12 months.
However, he is eyeing up a new string to add to his bow, in the commentary box.
The Sheriff feels some snooker commentators can be too critical and not analytical enough, and he is keen to bring his own style to the gig.
‘Hopefully in the future I’m going to be commentating,’ he said. ‘I was supposed to do some commentary before Covid for Eurosport, so hopefully it will happen again.
‘Some of the commentators have lost all empathy, it’s like everyone has to play at Judd Trump’s level all the time, but no, woah, woah, woah, it’s not that easy. You know it’s not that easy!
‘I’m hopefully going to bring a bit more empathy. If someone is blatantly not putting it in then slag them off, but no one needs to be slagged off for trying their best.’
Hamilton wants to see more analysis of technique and the technical side of the game, which he feels is missing, especially on BBC coverage of the sport.
‘I prefer Eurosport, it’s the home of snooker now, really,’ he said. ‘I watch some American sport, because I’m interested, and they don’t commentate for people like me, they commentate for people that have been watching the sport since they were kids.
‘It’s my job to catch up with the sport, not for them to dumb it down for me. That’s why I like Eurosport, they go a bit more in depth, but I still think some people are being patronised.
‘[Alan] McManus is really good, sometimes he’ll explain something and I’ll be applauding, thinking, “thank God, someone’s finally explained it.”
‘I saw a BBC pundit about three years back at the UK Championship and he said to me: “Alright Ant? I didn’t know you were still playing.”
‘I’d made it to the semi-finals of the European Masters a few weeks before, a full ranking tournament. That’s the BBC for you, it’s lazy.’
Hamilton heads to the WST Pro Series on Sunday looking for his first win of the season and, although he knows Covid and his neck could both hamper him over a long day of seven matches, he is looking forward to competing again.
‘We’ll see how I do physically because it’s a long day,’ he said. ‘It’ll be nice to play, it’s always nice to play snooker,
‘Best of three is a bit weird, we’ll see how it goes, but I’m well up for it. I’m always up for it, I’m the archetypal pro.
‘Play some snooker, nick a bit of dough, hopefully qualify, but if not, I’ll be trying my best.
‘Seven matches, win or lose, I’ve just been playing a few frames in practice, so to play a few frames is great, to play a few matches back-to-back is gold dust!’
Anthony as always not afraid to tell the truth. I can’t understand why some dislike the guy. He’s a great person.
Coming to the “answers on twitter” thing I picked this…
So much for the usual Ronnie bashing attempt.
The other player who has been in the news over the last days is if course Yan Bingtao.
Snooker prodigy motivated by filial love
YAN Bingtao has risen from a poor working-class background and playing to support his cancer-stricken mother to become China’s latest sporting prodigy.
The 20-year-old snooker star stunned four-time world champion John Higgins 10-8 to claim the prestigious Masters title last Sunday at England’s Milton Keynes, becoming the tournament’s youngest winner in 26 years. It was world number 11 Yan’s first major title and he is just a year older than Ronnie O’Sullivan was in 1995 when he won the Masters at 19, also beating Higgins.
“I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t win at least one or two world titles,” O’Sullivan, a six-time world champion, said.
Nicknamed “The Chinese Tiger,” Yan’s roaring triumph in his Masters debut is the culmination of a long struggle which at times seemed destined to end in a heart-breaking whimper.
He was born in Zibo, in China’s eastern province of Shandong, on February 16, 2000 and his first taste of holding a cue was on a rickety outdoor billiards table when he was 7 years old.
“I remember that it was uneven, there were leaves in the corners and the white ball went in a strange way,” the state-run People’s Daily quoted him as saying last year.
But Yan had talent and hoping that his boy had a future in the sport, his father Yan Dong quit his job at a pharmaceutical factory.
Against the advice of friends and family, the pair left home and Yan quit school aged 8 or 9 so they could pursue his snooker dreams in Beijing.
“To save money my father and I rented a room in the suburbs with just a bed and desk, costing 280 yuan (US$45) a month,” Yan said.
They could not afford heating and it was so cold that they wore their coats indoors, Yan once told Chinese media.
Father and son struggled to make ends meet and they admitted defeat, returning home to Zibo.
According to some accounts, the family sold most of their possessions to fund Yan’s career.
In 2013 they were plunged into crisis when Yan’s mother, the family bread-winner, was diagnosed with rectal cancer and needed an operation.
Earning the money to fund his mother’s recovery motivated him to enter more and more tournaments.
‘Never give up’
At 13, with his reputation on the rise, Yan began competing as a wildcard at professional events.
A year later, in 2014, Yan became the youngest winner of the World Amateur Snooker Championship.
He has been on a sharp upward trajectory since, turning professional in 2015, moving to England to further his career and capturing his first ranking title in Riga, Latvia in 2019.
Sheffield-based Yan collected 250,000 pounds (US$340,000) with his Masters triumph — the biggest payday of his fledgling career — and is widely praised for his dedication and hard work.
He is prime among a number of upcoming Chinese players and touted in domestic media as the successor to 33-year-old Ding Junhui, who has long been the country’s best player and an inspiration to Yan.
Many observers, including O’Sullivan, highlighted the new champion’s poise and maturity in storming back from behind to stun Higgins. At 45, the Scot is old enough to be Yan’s father.
In a touching denouement, Yan’s girlfriend translated his post-match interview into English on television.
But Yan’s thoughts inevitably soon turned to the two people who gambled everything for him.
“My mum and dad were watching on TV, they probably didn’t sleep tonight,” Yan said.
“They have always told me to never give up and to enjoy my life.”
No wonder that Yan is so mature and hard working. He deserves every success he gets.