The Curious Case of Ronnie O’Sullivan
This week ITV4 showed a brand new documentary as part of their Sports Life Stories series about Ronnie “The Rocket” O’Sullivan. Coincidently on the same day, O’Sullivan announced that he would be sitting out the rest of the 2012/13 Snooker Season due to personal issues that he needs to resolve.
At the time I didn’t really understand what he meant but having watched the documentary you not only got a look at O’Sullivan through the years but you got an insight into the man. The man who usually lets the snooker and trophies do the talking and tries to stay humble on the microphone. And it is quite clear when watching that Ronnie O’Sullivan is just a normal guy, he is a father, a son and one hell of a sporting talent Britain has to offer.
O’Sullivan is like all geniuses in the sense that he suffers for his art, maybe not physically but emotionally he suffers a lot.
Ronnie broke onto the snooker seen and only a matter of weeks after he turned 14 he was making his Television debut and only three years later won his first major title, beating Stephen Hendry in the 1993 UK Championships. Two years after he won his first Masters title by beating John Higgins. A career which on the table has seen him pocket just over £6 million in prize money, a career which has seen him take home 24 major ranking titles as well as a career which has seen O’Sullivan hit the heights of World Number 1 on no more than 5 different occasions down the years. The 2011 World Champion played some of the best snooker he had for a while, taking home the Premier League Snooker title as well as the Worlds.
The snooker he played over the 2011/12 season saw O’Sullivan named as World Snooker Player of the Year and Snooker Writer’s Player of the Year, only increasing his reputation as one of the best British sportsmen over the last 25 years. However this season Ronnie didn’t have the best of times during the PTC Events and after the Shanghai Masters he dropped out of top 16 for the first time since the 1994/95 snooker season. Then after advice from his doctor he didn’t travel and subsequently pulled out of the International Championships last week in Chengdu. Since then the statement was released of Ronnie’s departure from the game for the rest of the season.
Away from the table Ronnie has been troubled by many a demon throughout his career, emotionally he has been taken apart, built back up but then taken apart once again. A man who was a big family man even when growing up lost his father to life in prison before Ronnie even had the chance to win his first major title. But Ronnie Sr was a big part of the Rocket’s life and was the one who introduced and pushed Ronnie Jr to be the best he can be in the world of snooker. However, this was only the start of trauma O’Sullivan was going to suffer throughout his career.
Ronnie is a self announced perfectionist, he is always overly critical of his own play. He has always played of the mentality of living up to the expectation everybody gives him. He knows he is great, and that is the most scariest thing of all. It’s one thing for a player to be amazing, to be the best in the world, but when he knows it his ability shines through even brighter. O’Sullivan has since suffered from clinical depression, however he has expressed that he has a snooker depression and this causes him to have a social phobia. To imagine the life of a snooker player and with the vision of Barry Hearn, snooker can potentially be a lonely career if it hits you as hard as it has hit some of the players. Many players like O’Sullivan and most notably Graeme Dott have questioned why they are playing the game and have had to combat depression in some form. So it is a hard sport to play and takes a lot out of each individual who picks up a cue.
Just a look ahead to the next couple of weeks, I shall be previewing the UK Championships due to start on 1st December and will be giving you my tips for the outright winner of the tournament.