Ronnie O’Sullivan, Chigwell’s current world snooker champion

PUBLISHED: 13:01 17 December 2013 | UPDATED: 13:01 17 December 2013

EXG JAN 14  Ronnie

EXG JAN 14 Ronnie

Archant

So Ronnie, it’s great to see you are coming to Southend this month, have you played there before and is it a town you would visit as a child at all?
I spent a small amount of time in Southend. To be honest, most of my childhood was spent in the shed at the bottom of my garden practicing snooker, but I have engaged in a small amount of running round the area and it is a nice place. I know both of my kids would enjoy Southend, especially the amusement park.

In your book you talk about doing the Southend 10k road race in 36 minutes, which was your best time. Is that still the case or have you beaten it?

I got down to 34 minutes at my best, but I’m back on it again now so my aim is to go even lower. That’s when 
I can fit it in away from playing snooker and spending time with the kids.

Running is playing a huge part in your life again and much of your early running seemed to focus around the clubs in Essex. Do you still get time to run with the Essex gang?

Last week I did my first cross country race after quite some time. It was gruelling and took a lot out of me, but I think I did OK. There were some great runners that day and I got a real buzz out of it – loads of fresh air, great team spirit and lots of well wishers – it was just great. Even my manager came to support me. I’ve got some running partners. Running clubs are fantastic if you are starting out. People are really friendly and it’s a great way to get fit and learn all the time. There is nothing like getting taught and being advised by great runners.

So what can your fans expect from a Snooker Legends night if they have never been to one before?

It’s about seeing a more relaxed side of us. John Virgo commentates live throughout and we hear it as well so he can interact with us – if we miss a shot or two he’ll let us have it. Me versus Jimmy is always a good game – we won’t be playing much safety, that’s for sure. Plus Jimmy gives it back to Virgo now and then, so it is a fun night.

The show is a week before the Masters, so will it be good to get some good match practice against Jimmy with a big crowd in preparation for that?

To be honest my match practice for the Masters will be done by then. This is about just ticking over and saving some energy ready for Ally Pally.

Everyone focuses on you and the world championships and you being an entertainer. With Jimmy reaching the end of his career, is there any new young player coming through who can bring to the game the skills you, Jimmy and formally Alex Higgins did?

There are some great players out there, especially some of the Chinese kids. It’s up to them to make a breakthrough and show what they can do the way me, Jimmy and Alex did.

What do you think made those players you mention there so different? Did you try to play in that style or did it come naturally?

People say we are alike, and I suppose we are all entertainers in our own way, but we played the game quite differently really.

Finally, you had a 147 when you last played Jimmy, in Croydon I think. Does making a maximum still give you a buzz and what are the chances of us seeing one in Southend?

Oh yeah, a maxi is great, especially for the crowd. Jimmy’s had two at Legends and I got just the one in Croydon, so I need to catch up. I am pretty confident I will get there. It’s also nice for the crowd to see and whatever anyone says, the 147 always feels great. Whether it be the first or the last, the buzz is always there. Who knows I may even get one in Southend. Let’s see.

Find out more

Ronnie O Sullivan takes on Jimmy White on Wednesday, January 8 at The Cliffs Pavilion in Southend on Sea with John Virgo commentating and Michaela Tabb officiating. For tickets, call 01702 351135

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