Ronnie O'Sullivan lays down the law to young guns after lifting Masters
Ronnie O'Sullivan has just turned 40 and believes the "OAPs" of snooker are currently on top after winning his sixth Masters title on Sunday night.
O'Sullivan returned in style as he beat Barry Hawkins 10-1 at London's Alexandra Palace having been away from major tournaments since last April.
He was awarded an OBE for services to his sport in the New Year's Honours list, less than a month after turning 40 on December 5. Now, his record-equalling sixth Masters success caps a memorable month.
His instant return to form will see him listed among the favourites for April's World Championship at the Crucible, where again he will be looking for a sixth title.
O'Sullivan - who admits junk food and smoking helped him through his week at the Masters - thinks snooker's elder statesmen are doing a fine job in warding off the upcoming talent in the game.
"Maybe 40 is the new 30," he said.
"Maybe me, and John Higgins over the past year, have laid down the gauntlet a bit to the others. We have kept our level high and are waiting for someone young, or two or three, to come through and take it away from us - but it doesn't seem to be happening.
"It seems like a lot of the older players, John, Mark Williams, Hawkins, Stuart Bingham, maybe this kind of era are still able to compete with some of the youngsters. Hopefully there'll be a few more.
"We're like the OAPs of the sport. Me and John should be playing in the seniors this year but we're still winning major events.
"Maybe when they play people like me, Higgins, and in the past Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis, in the back of their mind they are waiting for us to hit top gear and there is too much respect shown.
"But there are only so many tournaments you've got in you. I need to start going down the gym because I've taken up smoking again, because of the stress of this tournament. I've been eating like a pig, I haven't run in two weeks, I've been lazy."