With the Olympic Games in full swing, many people are asking why snooker is not included. I don't know exactly why not but, as with other popular sports such as tennis and football, there are arguments for and against it.
The Olympics should be the pinnacle of your chosen sport, and for many it is. But it is plainly obvious that the football and tennis Olympic competitions don't matter nearly as much to the players as other big events they play in. I think this would be the same in snooker.
I don't buy into the argument that snooker is not a sport, supposedly because it is not that physical. For starters, I'd like these people to try walking around and bending over a snooker table for eight hours a day, they'd soon realise it's not as easy as they think!
Secondly, if archery, shooting and other non-physical sports can get in, then there's no reason why snooker should be excluded. I think snooker is still considered a UK-centric sport, something which Barry Hearn and World Snooker are trying very hard to change. Maybe, one day, snooker will line up in the Olympics, but I don't think it's crucial that it appears in the near future.
Snooker is, however, included in the World Games, which is a multi-sport event for sports aspiring to Olympic status. I had the privilege of competing in the last World Games in 2009 in Kaoshiung, Taiwan. There were some well-known sport, like squash and archery, and some less-known like fistball, roller gymnastics and sky diving.
One of the more interesting sports was 'flying disk', which is what they call competitive Frisbee. Myself and Stephen Craigie went to the main and it was quite good to watch. We also went to the softball stadium, although we weren't sure what was going on!
The snooker was part of the cue sports, which included men’s and women’s pool, and carom. It was only a small field of 16 players, who were invited from around the world. I was there as I had won the European Amateur Championship in 2008, while World Snooker invited Ricky Walden, Mike Dunn, Paul Davies and Nigel Bond.
It was only best of five, but I managed to win my first match 3-2 on the black and got to the final, losing 3-0 to Bond. It was amazing to stand on the podium and pick up a silver medal, and with Nigel winning gold they played the national anthem.
I was gutted we had to miss the closing ceremony to fly home in time to compete in a PIOS event. Nigel said he and Alison Fisher (who won gold at pool) were paraded around the stadium with 50,000 people cheering.
But even after missing that, it was still an amazing experience. It might be as close as I ever get to being an Olympian, but it's something I'll always remember.
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