Interview, pictures and plans…

Whilst others are getting ready for the last event before the Crucible, Ronnie has been busy cooking, planning a break and Crucible practice and, finally, acknowledging his own status in the sport.

Ronnie has shared those images on social media, hinting at a big announcement. If the tags accompanying the images are anything to go by, this is likely to be related to the imminent publication of his book with Rhiannon Lambert “Top of your game”.

According to “The Daily Star”, Ronnie’s plans ahead of the Crucible are to chill out with a mate, and go for a bit of fresh air and sailing, before heading to Sheffield for his preparation and practice ahead of the Crucible. Taking a break isn’t a bad idea IMO. The Tour Championship was pretty intense, the World Championship will be long and demanding. Being fresh heading to the Crucible might prove crucially important.

Meanwhile Eurosport has published this interview:

O’Sullivan: Hard to argue I’m not greatest of all time

By Eurosport

Ronnie O’Sullivan has admitted for the first time he has a right to be called snooker’s GOAT as his golden 27-year career continues to glitter.

O’Sullivan holds every major record in the sport in the modern era, but continues to be two adrift of the retired Stephen Hendry’s haul of seven world titles ahead of his latest tilt at a sixth world crown next month.

His achievements include:

  • Being the youngest winner of a ranking event aged 17 at the 1993 UK Championship
  • Winning a record 19 triple crown events including seven UK titles and seven Masters
  • Becoming the first man to break the 1000 mark in career centuries
  • Making 15 competitive 147 breaks, more than any other player

But the Essex man believes it is not only the numbers that validate his claim to be called snooker’s greatest of all time after his 13-11 win over 2010 world champion Neil Robertson in last weekend’s Tour Championship final.

At the age of 43, O’Sullivan is snooker’s oldest world number one since the 50-year-old six-times world champion Ray Reardon in 1983 after his title success in Llandudno.

He has drawn level on 36 ranking event titles with Hendry, a number that could be passed if he wins the World Championship.

The five-times world champion believes style, commitment and longevity since he turned professional in 1992 put him above his rivals in the debate about who is the green baize’s best.

When asked if he thought he was the greatest, O’Sullivan – winner of the world championship in 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2013 – told Eurosport: “It’s hard to argue against that in many ways, my record speaks for itself. I have every record barring the seven world titles.

“I think the thing for me is that I’ve done it in an aggressive, attacking and flamboyant way if you like, and to get results playing that style is never easy.

“A lot of players aim to stall you, and freeze the game up, and it’s a testament to your own ability to not allow that to happen, and when I’m playing well that never happens because I’m able to punch holes through them really quickly and their game plan goes out the window. “

“If I’m not playing well and clearing up in one visit and dominating the table, their confidence grows and find that’s the best way to beat me.

“But over the 25 years, I’ve pretty much had an answer for any opponent. It’s nice, I can reflect on my career now and be satisfied with it in many ways.”
“Every season there seems to be someone that’s playing well, but I seem to have always been there. It’s Mark Selby, then Neil Robertson, Judd Trump then John Higgins, Mark Williams but I always seem to be always there, so I’m happy I’ve always been able to have consistency at the highest level.”

Robertson compared O’Sullivan to Roger Federer in tennis after losing to O’Sullivan after seeing him end Selby’s four-year reign as number one despite playing in only seven ranking events this season.

“It’s nice when it comes from your peers and they’re probably the most important ones. When it comes from someone like Neil or Stephen Hendry or John Higgins it means so much more,” said O’Sullivan.

“But you have to go by your records, and being the most successful player in snooker now, it’s debatable whether it’s me or Hendry. He’s had seven world titles, whereas I only have five, but I seem to have every other record. ”
“It’s a bit like saying is (Lionel) Messi really the best player ever because he hasn’t won the World Cup? You can go on and on with that argument.

“For me Messi is the greatest player we’ve ever seen. By not winning the World Cup doesn’t change my opinion of him being the best.

“It’s difficult to satisfy some people, but sometimes it’s just nice to have your hat thrown in and be at the table in that discussion.”

WORLD SNOOKER CHAMPIONSHIP ON EUROSPORT

THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE

World Snooker Championship to be broadcast exclusively in 65 COUNTRIES and territories in Europe, Asia and North Africa (+UK non-exclusive)
Every minute of the main tournament broadcast exclusively LIVE* on Eurosport and Eurosport Player – equating to 150 HOURS of coverage
Exclusive coverage of the qualifying tournament on Eurosport Player – in total Eurosport will screen 300 HOURS of world-class snooker in April and May
WATCH ANYWHERE, ANYTIME – all coverage simulcast on the Eurosport Player
KEY DATES FOR THE DIARY

Qualification tournament – ONLY ON EUROSPORT PLAYER
Saturday 20 April – Day 1 of the main tournament from the 2019 World Snooker Championship
Saturday 27 April – Second round begins
Tuesday 30 April – Quarter-Finals begin
Thursday 2 May – Semi-Finals begin
Monday 6 May – The final of the 2019 World Snooker Championship concludes

Check the original article for pictures and videos.

Their views on Ronnie…

Following Ronnie’s victory in Preston, and his history making 1000th century, the Daily Mail  went to ask his friends how they see him. So here it is…

The remarkable Ronnie O’Sullivan reached the milestone of 1,000 century breaks with a thrilling 134 to retain the Players Championship in Preston on Sunday. In true O’Sullivan fashion, he even switched to left-handed to roll in the crucial red.

Next best in terms of tons is Stephen Hendry, who hit 775 during his illustrious career, proving that O’Sullivan, 43, is in a league of his own.

Sportsmail spoke to those who know him best to discover the secrets to his success…

Ronnie O'Sullivan became the first player to make 1,000 career century breaks on Sunday

 

RAY REARDON 

(Six-time world champion and coach in 2004)

I had a bit of a calming effect on him. When he couldn’t pot all the balls I showed him there was another side to the game. It was a small department that was missing — he didn’t like playing that way.

Over the past 20 years he’s been top notch but he’s a bit better now. He’s got more systems within the system. He sees the game better than anybody, much better than I saw it. The balls open up and he’s so clever and in control of the cue ball. He’s a bit of a genius.

He’s the best player I’ve ever seen, when he’s there. Sometimes he’s there in person but his mind’s not on the game, but that’s Ronnie. The main thing is he’s happy. If you’re happy you can play better.

Former coach Ray Reardon says O'Sullivan is the best snooker player that he's ever seen

Former coach Ray Reardon says O’Sullivan is the best snooker player that he’s ever seen

 

PROFESSOR STEVE PETERS

(Consultant psychiatrist)

Ronnie came to me eight years ago and we instantly formed a rapport. My job is to help people help themselves. It’s easy when you get someone like Ronnie as he’s so keen.

He’s worked very hard on the mental skills and continues to do so. It’s no different to the physical — it’s about keeping psychologically fit. Our emotions are usually the beliefs we hold. We make sure these are solid beliefs which are constructive.

We stay in touch regularly and he’s doing so well. I think what he’s developed in his own mind is that he’s absolutely driven and determined, but he’s more driven than he was. He’s learnt to gain perspective on things and not be as harsh on himself. We’re hoping he’ll play until he’s 50. That’s our aim.

The 43-year-old has worked very hard on the mental side of the game and continues to do so

DAMIEN HIRST 

(Artist and friend)

I was a Ronnie fan and when I met him six years ago we became mates. I guess I keep him calm.

I get to as many tournaments as I can and he comes to my Hammersmith studio to help me finish paintings. I give him a colour and say: ‘Put some here’. He’s my assistant.

Ronnie’s insane. I remember a first-to-nine against John Higgins. He was 8-3 down but said: ‘He twitched, I think I’ve got him’. He lost 9-8 but it was mad — what on earth gives you that feeling?

That’s why he’s exciting — because he’s instinctive. In art I aspire to that, but pain comes with it — he plays brilliantly or terribly and that’s the pain of genius. He wants to entertain. He often says: ‘I’d rather lose and play well than win and play s***.’

Ronnie’s biggest fear is not knowing when to quit. He has to be top of the game or he won’t be interested. He’s doing a good job selecting when he wants to play and because he’s winning he’s getting the ranking points, but not doing the leg work that everyone else is. He’s happier than I’ve ever seen him. I just want him to be happy.

Artist Damien Hirst says that his old friend's biggest fear is not knowing when to quit

Artist Damien Hirst says that his old friend’s biggest fear is not knowing when to quit

 

STEPHEN FEENEY 

(Inventor of SightRight coaching)

We started working together this season. He wasn’t enjoying playing and I did a test that showed him he wasn’t sighting a straight line.

In practice we do around 12 long shots with his eyes shut. When I link him in on the correct line all he has to do is pull the trigger.

He’s incredibly focused, a perfectionist. He beats himself up but he’s learning to accept that he can’t do everything.

If we can help him become even greater and his long game becomes the best in the world, there’s a big problem for other players.

It’s a work in progress but if you saw him in practice you would go: ‘Wow!’ We’re so close, it’s exciting. Can he go for another five years? Without doubt — and that’s what he wants.

SightRight inventor Stephen Feeney has no doubt O'Sullivan can keep going for five years

RHIANNON LAMBERT 

(Registered nutritionist)

I started working with Ronnie in September 2017. His mood wasn’t great, he said he was struggling to get motivated and had lost his love for the game.

He couldn’t concentrate, had leg injuries from over-training and was gaining weight due to a high fat, high protein, low carbohydrate diet.

I stripped back his running and reintroduced carbohydrates for concentration and muscle recovery, and he lost two stones quickly. We cut down his portions, especially healthy fats — he ate three avocados a day.

He’s got a healthy routine now — porridge in the morning, snacks when he’s training and healthy alternatives for dinner. He is so organised, making up batches of spices and freezing them for curries he loves cooking with his kids. I’m so proud of him.

Nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert is proud of the snooker star for sticking to his healthy routine

Nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert is proud of the snooker star for sticking to his healthy routine

 

STEPHEN HENDRY 

(Seven-time world champion)

I know what he’s thinking two or three shots in advance — it’s a snooker brain.

When he’s making a century break you look at the balls and see when he’s going to split the reds. It makes commentary very easy!

He’s become more of a percentage player. I hate that term because it doesn’t fit Ronnie.

He’s still aggressive, but because he’s so good he doesn’t need to take risks anymore.

He can wait it out and tie his opponent in knots, then he gets in and the frame’s over. When he’s on form it’s almost perfect snooker.

Former rival Stephen Hendry thinks O'Sullivan's game is almost perfect when on form

Former rival Stephen Hendry thinks O’Sullivan’s game is almost perfect when on form

 

JIMMY WHITE 

(Friend and fellow Eurosport expert)

Occasionally you get sports people come along who have that something special — like Seve Ballesteros and Sugar Ray Leonard — and create that buzz when they play. Ronnie is one of those geniuses.

He’s threatened to quit but I think that is because he’s not a good traveller. He knows sometimes he has to go to China or wherever for ranking points and when he’s focused, no one has ever been more dedicated than Ronnie.

When he does the punditry in the Eurosport studio everybody listens to him, especially the players — Neil Robertson records it.

They want to hear his insight because he’s got such a different outlook on the game. That’s why he took it to a new level. His passion for it is second to none.

Jimmy White says O'Sullivan's passion for the game of snooker is second to none

Jimmy White says O’Sullivan’s passion for the game of snooker is second to none

 

BARRY HEARN 

(Chairman of World Snooker)

I have known Ronnie since he was 12 and I hope that I am his friend. He’s as mad as a hatter but geniuses often are.

He causes me a few problems but I wish I had six players like him. He’s still my favourite and I’d put him above Davis, Hendry and Higgins. It’s that genius that gives him the inconsistency. He’s a one-off.

Sport needs personalities and Ronnie breaks all the rules — right-handed or left-handed, a five-and-a-half-minute 147. There’s never been anyone like him.

As much as I like to be in control you have to change your thinking with O’Sullivan because of what he brings to the table.

Quite often we will disagree. But Ronnie knows that I’m the best in the world at what I do and I am absolutely convinced that he’s the best in the world at what he does. So we have a marriage which may not be made in heaven, but it’s pretty damn close.

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn says O'Sullivan is still his favourite player in the game

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn says O’Sullivan is still his favourite player in the game

Enjoy!

 

Ronnie pays tribute to Andy Murray

After Andy Murray’s defeat at the Australian Open, after showing tremendous heart and determination on the court, many sportspersons reacted, showing admiration and support.

Ronnie was one of them

And this reported by BBC

Ronnie O’Sullivan praises Andy Murray after retirement plans

Amazing though how they always seem to find something negative to put forward … the first sentence isn’t about Ronnie’s praise of Andy Murray, it’s about him being “lazy”!

Well, personally, I think Ronnie was genuine in his praise, and Andy Murray deserves only respect and admiration for what he did on and off the court. I wish him the best, first and foremost to be able to enjoy his life without pain nor unbearable limitations.

As for Ronnie, he may indeed not be as ruthless as Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry were, but to me, it’s precisely because he’s a bit softer on himself that he is still competing at the highest level at 43 (and counting). Anyone who ever did endurance sports – hiking over several days for instance – will know that managing your efforts and resting your body and mind at the right times is key to achieving the goal eventually.

Ronnie: an interview and revisiting the Masters

The Masters 2019 is upon us, it starts on Sunday, and inevitably Ronnie is in the news. He’s won this tournament a record  seven times, over the last fifteen years, he’s made it to 9 finals, in fourteen participation and won it six times. So it’s no wonder that the press will want to speak to him in the build-up.

And now of course, having won the UK championship for the seventh time before Christmas, bringing his number of “Triple Crowns” to nineteen and having superseded Stephen Hendry’s tally in the process, he’s largely recognised as the greatest.

So here is an interview with de Daily Mail

‘I don’t think any player has ever got the better of me’: Ronnie O’Sullivan on being the best in the world, why he can play until he is 55, and his next trick

  • Ronnie O’Sullivan has had ‘no better feeling’ than being at the top of his game
  • The five-time world champion tells Sportsmail why he is so consistent
  • He has considered taking up hobbies including go-karting and Nordic skiing  
  • O’Sullivan will play Stuart Bingham in the first round of the Masters on Monday 

Ronnie O’Sullivan is usually his own harshest critic. But the tortured king of snooker seems less tormented nowadays, with the pursuit of perfection not as painful as it was.

It is refreshing to hear O’Sullivan, 43, who is normally quicker to praise his contemporaries, speak about those moments when he is at the top of his game.

‘It’s fantastic! There is no better feeling,’ he says. ‘I feel like I have an answer for anything that my opponent might bring to the table — whether that’s good safety, or good break-building, or good potting.

Ronnie O'Sullivan believes there is no better feeling than being at the top of his game

Ronnie O’Sullivan believes there is no better feeling than being at the top of his game

 

O'Sullivan has won five World Championships and seven UK Championships during his career

O’Sullivan has won five World Championships and seven UK Championships during his career

‘I just know that they have to continue doing what they’re good at to a very high level for a very long time to have a chance to beat me. And they might beat me. But I’ll be coming for you the next week.

‘And I’ll be coming for you the week after. So keep bringing your A game. At the end of their career most players will say, “Well, I didn’t really get the better of Ronnie”. And that’s all you can do as a sportsman.’

At 17, O’Sullivan saw off Stephen Hendry to win the 1993 UK Championship, thanks to sublime talent and an infectious personality, and has dominated snooker for more than 25 years.

‘I’ve had to play different eras and players. Some players will come along for five years and everyone will be saying, “Oh they’re going to be great”. And then I’ll have to deal with them.

‘And then it will be another batch and then I’d have five years of them. And then another batch of players. Because they can’t sustain it. They can’t sustain it for 25 years.

‘I don’t think there’s any pro who has ever played in my era who can honestly say that they got the better of me, really,’ he says nonchalantly between sips of lemon and ginger tea.

So how has he done it? ‘You have to reinvent yourself sometimes,’ he continues. ‘You have to look round and say, “There are players out there doing stuff better than I am”. I want to try to get that into my game.’

O'Sullivan spoke to Sportsmail about his lengthy career and his success in the sport

O’Sullivan spoke to Sportsmail about his lengthy career and his success in the sport

 

Aged just 17, O’Sullivan defeated Stephen Hendry to win the 1993 UK Championship

Aged just 17, O’Sullivan defeated Stephen Hendry to win the 1993 UK Championship

O’Sullivan, who watched and learned as heroes such as Jimmy White, Steve Davis and Hendry became opponents, had a close eye on Mark Williams last year. Aged 43, the Welshman won his third World Championship in May, 15 years after his last Crucible victory.

Williams credited Steve Feeney’s SightRight stable with advances in his game and this was not lost on O’Sullivan, who joined the programme in July.

‘I noticed Mark had got more compact and that was a consequence of changing his alignment,’ says O’Sullivan. ‘I was always interested in someone who can compact everything that they can do. When I’m playing my best I feel compact and tight so I thought I would give it a go.

‘I knew I needed to do something. I didn’t want to carry on playing as I was last season.

‘It was like learning a new language. He gave me solidness, if you like. I’m not a better player. I don’t believe you can improve as a player. I think once you get to 21, 22 you’re as good as you’re ever going to be.

‘I’m just a different type of player. More consistent, if you like. Probably won’t have as many moments of brilliance because I won’t need to. I’ll just be solid — which is OK for me.’

O'Sullivan accepted that he was a solid player and that has helped him achieve success

O’Sullivan accepted that he was a solid player and that has helped him achieve success

 

O'Sullivan has won a record total of 19 titles in Triple Crown tournaments during his career

O’Sullivan has won a record total of 19 titles in Triple Crown tournaments during his career

O’Sullivan credits Ray Reardon with improving his safety game, and his union with psychiatrist Steve Peters helped challenge his mental demons. Away from the table, nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert changed his attitude to food, and artist Damien Hirst is a regular in his dressing room.

‘I’m lucky, I’ve got some good friends,’ he says. ‘And some great people who have become friends. My friends are people who want nothing from me — even with Steve Peters.

‘He wants nothing from me other than to see me do well. I kind of gravitate to those people and keep them in my life. I’m lucky to have them around.’

O'Sullivan is a keen runner and has changed his approach to his diet to prolong his career 
O’Sullivan is a keen runner and has changed his approach to his diet to prolong his career

 

O'Sullivan beat Mark Allen to claim his seventh UK Championship victory in York in December 

O’Sullivan beat Mark Allen to claim his seventh UK Championship victory in York in December

The wild nights out are long gone in favour of quiet nights in. O’Sullivan, who has written three fiction books and has his own cookery book published in May, is reading about Genghis Khan and is a Netflix aficionado.

He still runs (‘I can do a Parkrun — three miles — in about 20 minutes, which is all right, though it ain’t great.’)

But O’Sullivan, nimble of body and inquisitive of mind, is looking for new pastimes.

‘I’m going to go into karting,’ he says. ‘I’ve got my first testing after the Masters. They do four five-hour races. Three drivers.

‘You do the pole position — all that sort of thing. You start at eight in the morning and finish at five at night. So I thought, yeah that’ll do me. Once a month, something like that.

‘I want to start Nordic skiing as well. Cross-country skiing. I’ve always fancied that because it’s like running. I’ve got that running background. It doesn’t look like there’s much skill involved. I’m always looking for something to do.’

The West Midlands-born cueman has thought about taking up go-karting and Nordic skiing 
The West Midlands-born cueman has thought about taking up go-karting and Nordic skiing

 

He insists that he does not prepare for tournaments or opponents in a specific manner
He insists that he does not prepare for tournaments or opponents in a specific manner

O’Sullivan won the UK Championship last month, becoming the first player to win 19 Triple Crown events, overtaking Hendry in the process.

With the Masters — a tournament he has won seven times with three victories in the past five years — starting on Sunday, O’Sullivan faces 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham in the first round on Monday. How has he been preparing?

‘I don’t actually prepare for one tournament in a certain way. I just kind of play,’ he says.

‘I’m a bit like a boxer who is fit all year round. I wouldn’t be like a Ricky Hatton where I finish a fight and then don’t go near a gym for two months. I’d be back in the gym, training. That’s how I live my life as a snooker player.’

As his career progresses, O'Sullivan has taken on more commentary and analysis roles

As his career progresses, O’Sullivan has taken on more commentary and analysis roles

 

O'Sullivan's first match at the Masters will be against 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham 

O’Sullivan’s first match at the Masters will be against 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham

O’Sullivan will be analysing his competitors for Eurosport during the competition. He provides sharp insight and has learned a thing or two.

‘I’ve had to commentate on nine frames in a match,’ he says. ‘Wow! So you get to see a different game when you’re commentating from when you’re playing.’

And although he believes that his form over the past six or seven years has been something near his best, how long can he go on?

‘Whatever sport or business you’re in, you’re always looking around at your competitors,’ he says. ‘Is anyone doing anything better than you and can you learn from them? I don’t really see anybody tearing it up, really.

‘It’s kind of giving me a little more belief that I can play a bit longer than I thought I could. I think 50 would be the minimum. Competing and still winning tournaments.

‘Unless some really good players come up through the ranks, I could maybe go on until 55. So who knows? I’m never satisfied, I just want to be as good as I can be, if that makes sense.’

Ronnie has also been on twitter, yesterday and the day before for the first time this year. He’s considering doing some podcasts and pointed his fans to this video by Eurosport UK, recollecting some of his most remarkable moments at the Masters.

Looking forward to kicking off 2019 at the Masters next week 😃

No #SPOTYforRonnie

Once again snooker has only got minimal coverage in the SPOTY show and neither Ronnie nor Mark Williams have been considered.

Here is Desmond Kane take of it. Desmond is writing for Eurosport

Feature – Ronnie O’Sullivan SPOTY snub reeks of ignorance, snobbery and borders on national disgrace

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s latest snub for the BBC Sports Personality of the year award is a total farce that is either genuine ignorance or a weird old case of class snobbery, writes Desmond Kane

And so the incurable malady of the Sports Personality ceremony lingers on.

The disgraceful decision to again ignore Ronnie O’Sullivan, snooker’s greatest player of all time, from SPOTY, hit a worst note than David Baddiel trying to sing Three Lions at the smug, self-satisfied annual jamboree.

The decision-making to somehow omit O’Sullivan from the shortlist is as much of a waste of space as filling Birmingham’s Genting Arena with 15,000 to celebrate a closed shop. This is an event that completely lost its sense of decorum a long time ago. Probably when blokes like Harry Carpenter and big Frank Bruno were putting golf balls around the old BBC TV Centre back in the 1980s.

SPOTY is no longer for the people who watch sport, but soiled by people who think they know what the public like or want. Who think they know better than the great viewing public.

VIDEO – ‘Absolutely ridiculous!’ – Allen slams Ronnie’s SPOTY snub

00:44

It has as much credibility as the haggard Brexit diatribe “the will of the people” by disconnected eccentrics who have completely lost any sense of what the public actually want or like.

“What has anybody done in British sport done that Ronnie hasn’t done,” said an animated Mark Allen after his 9-7 win over Shaun Murphy in the Scottish Open final in Glasgow.

“It is absolutely ridiculous that he gets overlooked time and time again.”

O’Sullivan was priced at 14-1 for the top award last night behind only Tottenham and England forward Harry Kane, and it must be said a deserving winner in Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas.

Even when the six names were trotted out by host Gary Lineker, who weirdly invited them to trudge onto the stage if they heard their name like some sort of sixth form teacher, O’Sullivan was still ahead of Lizzy Yarnold and James Anderson in the betting.

But how can he win if he isn’t allowed a place on the shortlist?

VIDEO – O’Sullivan lifts seventh UK Championship

01:06

Like him or loathe him, at the ripe young age of 43, O’Sullivan has personality, longevity and continues to be a magnificent champion at a stage of his career when other players are reaching for the horlicks.

The latest judging panel who opted against O’Sullivan for the final list of six nominees for the top award are guilty of failing to properly appreciate one of this country’s most talented sports people of all time.

Since he turned professional in 1992, O’Sullivan has astonishingly never been nominated. Yet on he goes, continuing to not only compete with age, but actually improve with 19 major events carried off from the sport.

He has enjoyed a wonderful time in 2018, finishing the year with a record seventh UK title while winning the World Grand Prix, the Players Championship, the Shanghai Masters and the Champion of Champions amid a smorgasbord of runs to the latter stages of events.

If he cannot make it onto the shortlist, you can well and truly forget the biggest snooker story of the year: the rejuvenated world champion Mark Williams winning a third world title at the age of 43, 15 years after his second gong at the Crucible. This miracle on the Sheffield mound occurred a year after the Welshman was thinking of retiring for failing to qualify for the tournament.

How can such world-class individuals be overlooked when they have spades of personality, charisma, dedication and a winning mentality?

VIDEO – When Mark Williams went NAKED to celebrate his world title – Eurosport Advent Calendar

01:43

Snooker is a game that was huge in the 1980s when it was transported from darkened spaces in working men’s clubs to mainstream TV.

It made icons of men like Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins, Steve Davis and Jimmy ‘The Whirlwind’ White, but it is interesting that snooker has been treated with more disdain at a time when standards have never been higher. At a time when the standard-bearer is an English bloke who performs such a tough, unremitting game like he is potting pool balls down the pub.

O’Sullivan brings a spiritual element to snooker that has never been seen before and is perhaps unlikely to be witnessed again. O’Sullivan has made it more of an art form than a game. Van Gogh of the green baize. Quite possibly.

Well, the working class roots of snooker are obviously sneered at, and a general ignorance about the talent levels involved in the game make a mockery of the SPOTY panel of judges. Once again.

The SPOTY judging panel have made a barmier call than the trio who thought Deontay Wilder drew with Tyson Fury in their heavyweight contest last weekend.

Like O’Sullivan, Fury does not fit into the politically correct crew who put false, manufactured persona above proper working class heroes.

Like O’Sullivan, he has suffered from a cliquish interpretation of what the man or woman in the street likes.

SPOTY will continue to be run by a cabal of misguided snobs, but it completely lacks any credibility when it decides to omit great personalities for being great. And more importantly, for being true to themselves.

Follow the link above to watch the actual videos.

Desmond’s article only expresses the sentiments that countless others shared on social media yesterday evening.

Ronnie spoke to the sponsor ahead of the UK Championship 2018

This is the interview on Betway’s blog

and it’s not just about snooker of course, in fact it’s mainly not about snooker …

Ronnie O’Sullivan on healthy eating, exercise and snooker

UK2018ronnie_BetwayInterview

If you asked a snooker fan how Ronnie O’Sullivan was able to win a record-equalling five world ranking titles last season, they would tell you it’s because he’s a genius and probably the greatest player to ever play the game.

Both statements are true. But O’Sullivan believes the reason he achieved something that is beyond most players, never mind one who’s more than 25 years into his professional career, is because he started eating healthily.

The Rocket said so himself in July 2018 while cooking a Thai curry on Facebook Live alongside Rhiannon Lambert, the Harley Street nutritionist who he says has “re-educated him” about food.

“Before I met Rhiannon, I was playing well enough, but I was running out of steam,” says O’Sullivan, who is 3/1 in the snooker betting to retain his title at the 2018 Betway UK Championship, which is the reason this phone call is taking place.

“I got tired because I was eating bad food. But once I started working with Rhiannon, I started eating differently.”

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Lambert writes on her website that ‘keeping nutrition simple is the easiest way to maintain a healthy lifestyle’, and her recipes left O’Sullivan feeling “more energised” and “alert” during matches.

“I’m getting 100 per cent out of myself now, whereas before I was probably getting 85 per cent of myself,” says O’Sullivan, who won just one ranking event the season before he claimed five. “I think the difference between winning two tournaments a year and winning five is them moments where I was able to see the match through the end without feeling like I wanted to go and have a kip.”

The 42-year-old’s explanation is not as romantic as the one about him being a genius who can pitch up to any event and win it, irrespective of whether he has been practising or not.

That’s why those who have followed his career – some for more than a quarter of a century – are reluctant to believe it. He did win five World titles eating whatever he wanted, after all.

“I think most people think I was born with a cue in my hand and that when I get on the table it’s all a piece of cake,” says O’Sullivan, “but that’s not the reality. I have to work hard.

“There’s other top players. They’re so slight, but to make those gains on your opponent takes so much hard work and preparation. They make the difference between winning 6-4 and losing 6-4.”

O’Sullivan, who describes healthy eating and fitness as his “main passion”, first met Lambert in July 2017. “I was her guinea pig, really,” he says. “I bought totally into it and it made a massive difference to my life. I’ve learned how to put better nutrition into my body.”

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He cooks every day when he’s at home and does so in batches. “I like to train, I like to go to the club, so I don’t want to be around a stove all day,” he says. “Everyone’s got busy lives, so it’s good to have food prepped and ready to go – plus you save yourself a few quid.”

Healthy eating is harder to maintain when on the road competing in tournaments – “I’ll always take stuff with me… snacks like a jar of peanut butter, some rice, some tuna” – although he says the food in Thailand and China, which host several tournaments a year, as “incredible – some of the best I’ve ever eaten”.

“I think the UK’s probably the worst place I’ve ever been for food,” he continues, unprompted. “It really is. I see what some places serve up and I just think: ‘Wow. No wonder we’re not producing great athletes.’

“You look at other countries eat and it’s fresh, proper grub. I think it makes a huge difference to your development. I travel in Europe a lot, to places like Bulgaria and Romania, and even there the tomatoes taste different, the cucumbers taste different. In the UK, it’s quantity over quality, and I’m trying to avoid being part of that system.”

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O’Sullivan wants to help others avoid being part of it, too, which is why he and Lambert will release a health and fitness book, Top of Your Game: Eating for the Mind and Body, in December 2018.

“I meet a lot of people who are trying to lose weight,” says O’Sullivan, “but they’re making decisions on food by reading food labels that say low in fat but are actually caked in sugar and certain stuff that’s worse than fat.

“That’s what Rhiannon done for me. She re-educated me. I’ve been fast-tracked in a way, and I think it’s nice to be able to pass that on. People want to be able to make proper decisions.”

O’Sullivan’s other passion is fitness and he describes himself as a “decent club runner”. Unlike eating healthily, however, he doesn’t believe keeping fit improves his game.

“You don’t really have to be fit to be a snooker player,” he says. “If you eat well and play snooker, you’ll be absolutely fine.

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“I just done it because it was a good outlet for me. I had quite an addictive nature, so I thought: ‘Well, if I’m going to be addicted, I might as well get addicted to something that’s really good for me.’

“That was running, keeping fit and training. At least if I am going to over-do it on something, the worst that’s going to happen to me is that I end up with a few sore calf muscles, or my shoulders are a bit tight.”

Or a damaged heel, which O’Sullivan currently has. It’s not stopping him from exercising, but he is likely to need surgery if he wants to perform at his best again.

He did a Park Run last weekend and finished the 5km course in 20 minutes, a time he describes as “useless”. It’s not, although it is some way below his record of 17 minutes and nine seconds.

“I want to get back that to that,” says O’Sullivan. “But to do that I’ll probably have to get my foot done. I’ve convinced myself I’m going to have the operation, so it’ll mean three or four weeks in a boot ‘til it heals properly.”

But with snooker’s glamour events still to come, any extended absence will have to be carefully planned.

“I might just wait ’til after the World Championships or after the Masters – I don’t know,” says O’Sullivan. “I do know it’s something worth getting done.”

Being “where I want to be, when I want to be” is important to O’Sullivan at this stage of his life, of which snooker remains a huge part.

“I still love playing,” he says, before correcting himself. “When I say love playing, I like playing. Some days I love playing, some days I’m like…” He exhales.

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O’Sullivan’s role as a pundit for Eurosport, which often means he provides analysis on tournaments he is also competing in, complicates that relationship further.

“That’s my problem,” he says. “I love doing it. I love sitting there with Jimmy White and Neil Foulds. I love the crew at Eurosport – there’s no pressure. And I get to talk about a subject that I’m quite knowledgeable on.

“It’s a dream job, really. But then I’ve got my other head on, thinking that I want to be competing and doing the best at snooker, so… I don’t know.”

O’Sullivan plans to keep playing competitively until that desire “goes, really” and says he’ll head to York for the UK Championship – which, at 13 days, is snooker’s second-longest event – and “give it my best”.

Providing he eats and plays well, there’s an excellent chance O’Sullivan’s best will be good enough to win yet another ranking title.

 Ronnie O’Sullivan was talking to Betway on behalf of the 2018 UK Championship, where he is the defending champion.