We now face more than 3 weeks without professional snooker, so I will muse about snooker news and things at all levels and various related topics.
Today I want to share a piece I came across whilst browsing snooker related news. It’s about Jamie Hunter.
Woman battles ‘barrage’ of hate to bag top snooker crown
Jamie Hunter described her US Open experience as “magical”
A woman from Widnes has battled a “barrage” of online hate to triumph at a major snooker tournament.
Jamie Hunter, 25, crowned a memorable debut year on the World Women’s Snooker (WWS) Tour by securing her first world ranking event title at the US Open in Seattle on Sunday (August 28). Jamie, a keen footballer, took up snooker in a bid to fill a “competitive hole” after a severe ankle injury forced her to prematurely hang up her boots.
Jamie joined her hometown snooker club and played in local leagues before joining the WWS tour last year. It’s been a whirlwind month for the 25-year-old, who claimed victory at the Women’s World Billiards championship in Dublin on August 21 before making the trip to the US.
While the WWS tour is predominantly made up of high-level amateur competitors, Jamie bagged US open glory by defeating professional snooker player Rebecca Kenna 4-1 in the final.
Jamie told the ECHO : “Seattle was nothing short of magical. The place was simply stunning, the people were so kind, caring and inclusive.
“The venue was the best I’ve ever been to, the hosts were two of the most special people I’ve ever met and, to top it all off, I was able to win the US Open so I couldn’t have wished for a better experience.
“Honestly, I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet. My tournament wins never feel real until I see my dad. The pride and joy in his eyes when I see him, that’s when I know I’m a champion“.
Following her recent success, Jamie is now sixth in the World Women’s Snooker Rankings – a feat that is particularly impressive considering she has to juggle snooker with her full time job in IT at Halton Borough Council.
She said: “Snooker is a sport that requires so much practice, for the precision and for the mental aspect of the game. After joining the tour, I had to get my own table, which took months to organise and setup.
“I now practise roughly 25-30 hours a week, while also having a full time job, so some days it is tough. Add on top that when you lose in some events, you’re really disappointed and the desire to keep playing everyday just to fall short is hard and takes a lot of mental strength but I’m always back on that horse at some point.“
Despite receiving an “outpouring of love” from family and friends in the wake of her US open triumph, Jamie told the ECHO she has also been hit by a wave of abuse on social media because she is transgender.
She described being a trans woman in the public eye as “exhausting” and has been inundated with “disgusting” hate messages, threats and cheating accusations.
She said: “I have thick skin and nothing anybody will say will stop me playing snooker and billiards, they’re my passion and my dreams, but it doesn’t half hurt to see that my existence and my dreams upset so many people.
“Luckily WWS and WST staff have been by my side and vocal about standing with me against hate and transphobia, using the hashtag #hateneverwins which has been amazing by them to show their support.
“Although this win in Seattle is my first ranking title and something I thought I’d only ever get in my dreams, and it’s one of the happiest moments of my life, at the same time it’s the saddest time because of the social media hate barrage.“
Jamie will get the chance to pick up another title at the Australian Open, which takes place in Sydney in October. Jamie said: ” My Dad is travelling with me and my partner for this one, and it’ll be the first ranking event he’s ever attended, so it’ll be a special one. It’s a jam packed calendar this year, but that’s just a testament to the growth of the WWS tour and the hard work by all the staff involved.”
Speaking of her pride at Jamie’s recent achievements, mum Janice told the ECHO: “I’m absolutely delighted. It’s been a long journey and it hasn’t been easy.
“She joined the tour a year ago and has just gone from strength to strength. This is the first major snooker tournament she’s won so we’re just beyond proud of her.
“Some of the girls she’s been competing against have been playing for a long time and have been on the tour for a number of years so we’re just delighted.“
I never understood why so many people can’t just allow others “to be” even if it’s unconventional or unusual … as long as it doesn’t hurt or damage anyone. Why does it bother them if someone doesn’t conform to their personal standards? Why do they hate those who are different? Why do we have to comply to social stereotypes and prejudices? And it’s not just about sexuality, it’s about everything… religion, education, fashion, sports. You name it.
Here are a few examples
- When I was a teenager I was educated in a school for girls only. They didn’t offer us the option to take an “advanced maths” or “advanced physics” course because “those things are not for girls”. Really? Well … I had to fight but I ended up with a PHD in Maths and one of my then classmate has one in Physics.
- The social media nowadays is full of calls encouraging men to reach out if they suffer from mental health issues. Yet many don’t, they feel ashamed, don’t want to be perceived as “weak” … and take their own life. I’m convinced that the social stereotypes about “strong male”, “boys don’t cry”, “take it on the chin” are at the root of this situation. Why do men need to suppress their emotions?
- Recently the “Lionesses” won the Euro and everyone in the UK was behind them and, yet, from what I understood, girls are not allowed to take football as part of the PE curriculum. Why? And why is a boy “automatically” supposed to be interested in football?
I could go on.
Regarding transgender persons, I had an experience… some 50 years ago. I was a teenager in the early 70th. I was looking after younger children in a “holiday camp”. Amongst the boys, in the 4-6 years group age, was a little boy who didn’t fit. He was very sensitive, wasn’t interested in the usual “boys activities”, he preferred to play with girls and liked to dress-up. He was bullied by the other boys… I had never heard the word “transgender” at the time, I had no idea about such things. But we ended up moving this kid to the “girls group”, where he was welcome and much happier. That kid had a brother, just one year younger, and he was completely different, he was the “typical” boy. So this wasn’t about education. That “misfit” kid wasn’t trying to gain any “advantage”. He just wanted to be himself and happy.
Open your mind… be kind. I costs nothing.