UK Championship: No hope for O'Sullivan replicating White's longevity

Ronnie O'Sullivan has ruled out following the example of Jimmy White by playing on into his fifties.

Ronnie O'Sullivan.
Ronnie O'Sullivan.

British Olympic rowing great Sir Steve Redgrave famously said after winning his fourth gold at Atlanta 1996 that anyone who saw him in a boat again should shoot him, before having a change of heart and competing – and winning – in Sydney.

And O’Sullivan, who turns 42 next Tuesday, says he would give the same licence to anyone if he is still potting snooker balls for a living in 10 years’ time.

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White is 55 years old and had an unexpected first-round win over Ali Carter at the Betway UK Championship in York on Thursday, setting up a clash today with his friend Kurt Maflin, a Londoner with a Norwegian passport.

“Jimmy still loves playing and I still love playing but I couldn’t be doing what he’s doing,” said O’Sullivan.

“I find it hard enough now, never mind another 14 years on. I give you permission to shoot me if I’m here in another 10 years.

“You’ve got to follow your passions. Jimmy loves playing and that’s great for Jimmy.

“I try to win titles but I’m emotionally detached from it and go about it in a workman sort of way, but I think Jimmy really has the desire to put in some great performances.

“I still do, but I just see it as a vehicle to enjoy my life and do other things.

“I’ll keep giving it the best I can but I won’t be sorry to see the back of snooker. I’m 42 now and don’t want to get to 50 and be thinking that all I’ve done is play snooker.”

White won the UK title 25 years ago, 12 months before a 17-year-old O’Sullivan stunned the sporting world by succeeding him.

The Whirlwind has lost none of his competitive enthusiasm, despite falling outside the world’s top 100 and needing a tour wild card this season.

“I don’t need to play snooker, I play snooker because I love to play snooker,” said White.

“I never play for money, it’s always been a passion for me and while I can still play I’ll carry on.”

White will be attempting to reach the last-32 stage for the first time since 2010. O’Sullivan must wait until Sunday for his second-round clash with English-Cypriot Michael Georgiou.