Ronnie O’Sullivan says being snooker world champion trumps winning an Olympic gold medal, writes Will Jennings.
The five-time king of the Crucible has enjoyed a stunning career at the summit of his sport, romping to 36 ranking event titles since breaking onto the scene in the early 1990s.
But snooker has never been contested as an Olympic sport, with the Betfred World Championship, UK Championship and Masters representing the three Triple Crown events players strive for the most.
Defending world champion Judd Trump has backed the sport being added to the Games roster but for world No.6 O’Sullivan, it’s winning at the Crucible that sits top of the pile.
“I don’t know, one day snooker might become an Olympic sport,” the 44-year-old said.
“I don’t know, really - I’ve always had this thing that as an athlete, the Olympics are very important and your pinnacle.
“But as a snooker player, I’m not sure it would be the pinnacle - I’m not sure winning the Olympics would trump winning the World Championships.
“So, for me, does it deserve to be an Olympic sport? Probably not on that basis.”
The Rocket is currently ramping up preparations for a tilt at a sixth Betfred World Championship glory, failing to reach the semi-finals since 2014 and being knocked out in the first round against qualifier James Cahill last year.
The Sheffield showpiece will be taking place behind closed doors for the first time ever this year, starting over three months later than planned after the coronavirus pandemic decimated the sporting calendar.
I’d have loved to take part in the Olympics and will never forget watching London 2012 and @TeamGB’s amazing performance. Watch an eight-day celebration, starting at 4pm today on @Eurosport_UK #Returnto2012 https://t.co/3az91MCibh— Ronnie O'Sullivan (@ronnieo147) May 24, 2020
The Olympic Games scheduled for this summer have also been postponed to 2021, as athletes’ hopes of Games nirvana were put on hold until next July.
And O’Sullivan sympathises with all those sportsmen and women whose dreams of Tokyo glory were unable to be realised this year.
“For me when that athlete gets that gold medal at the Olympics - or whatever medal they get - you see it just means the world for them,” he added.
“They’ve put all their four years of their life on the line for that.
“But as a snooker player, a bit like golf, I suppose, you kind of go [to the Olympics] if your sponsors say I’ve got to play, or the whole country thinks I’m being a bit of a selfish person if I don’t turn up.
“And I think, maybe that’s how it would be for a snooker player.”
Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship and qualifying from 21st July – 16th August.