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O’Sullivan’s emotional journey

Ronnie O'Sullivan has taken inspiration from Usain Bolt as he enters the new decade with a fresh approach to his snooker.

The ‘Rocket', like Jamaican sprinter Bolt, has no peers in his sport, but his drive for perfection has contributed to the psychological demons the 34-year-old has needed to deal with since turning professional in the early 1990s.

After threatening to the quit the sport on several occasions, O'Sullivan's love for snooker is well and truly alive, with an emphasis on entertaining.

“Usain Bolt has proved you don't have to be so intense about everything you do,” said O'Sullivan.

“You can make things fun and still break world records and be the best at what you do in the world.

“I think I've performed my best when I've had that attitude.”

O'Sullivan will start the defence of his Masters title at Wembley next week when his fresh approach will form an interesting sub-plot for the tournament.

So will O'Sullivan's equipment, if he decides to use the purple cue that sponsors Premier Inn have provided him. They have also promised to give away 147 hotel rooms if he records a maximum.

His love for snooker was evident at a snooker academy in Romford, where he even spent time on the table giving a masterclass to journalists.

He was keen to stress that, despite his new philosophy, he is hungry to win.

“Rankings are important and it's important to be winning. I don't want anyone to think I'm going soft. That is not the case,” said O’Sullivan.

“I always want to be the best, but if frustration gives way to that then you're not getting the best out of yourself. What's important, is enjoying the game and being competitive, being passionate about what you do.

“As a consequence of that, rankings and tournaments take care of themselves. I don't want to be driven by statistics or numbers, I want to be driven by what I feel emotionally.

“That is the most important thing and why I'll still play the game after I retire.”

There is plenty of snooker left for O'Sullivan, provided he can still entertain his crowds.

“Where I go to play they can see I am emotionally involved in the game,” he said. “I'm with the ups and lows, I'm with every part of it because I love what I do.

“I think that gravitates and transcends to the crowd and they pick up on it. You take them on a journey. That is important to me, to do that for whoever is in the arena.

“Take them on a journey with you — that is what I do as a performer. As a performer it’s something that should be important.”

Belfast Telegraph