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#6, July 31st 1996

Snooker for the Olympics

At last Snooker has been given the all clear to join the olympics in 2004, this is a giant step forward toward snooker being a world wide sport. To some snooker is a sport which perhaps should not be in the olympics, but then compared to say beach volley ball I think it has every right. Snooker has still a long way to go and to my mind it has to be accepted in America to really gain recognition, but we have to take one step at a time!!. when you consider how far snooker has come from the day's of just a few pro's playing for a pittence of prize money, todays player's have ten major tournaments to play in and can earn in excess of 1 million pounds in a season (well Stephen Hendry can!!). At this point we must not be complacent, and when I say we I mean the WPBSA snookers ruling body. They told me two years ago they would be setting up a web page but as yet nothing, they should move quicker and impliment their ideas. I too wrote to them expressing my view that they should approve clubs playing standards and register them with a licence, and then allow wpbsa coaches or pro players to be residents at these clubs. Then once this was in place they could reward the clubs by playing 'B league' matches in them, all of this serves one purpose to improve the game at grass roots level. This is where we have to shake off the lower class image which sponsors dislike, because like it or not many sponsors turn away from snooker because of the image the sport has. at present we stand at the doorway of making snooker a truly world wide sport, we must grasp this opportunity and keep up the hard work!!!!.

A new season is just around the corner and it is hard to think that the lower ranked pro's started their season at the end of June, in fact many of them would have already finished theirs. Some of you may know what it is like in the qualifying matches at Blackpool, but I bet most would be surprised at the difference between this and the top venues. Blackpool can be one of the most grueling of places to a pro, many promising careers have floundered or blossomed there. Although there maybe only a handful of people actually watching believe me it can be so nerve racking, every point is fought tooth and nail for. I have even seen players burst in to tears before now through the stress of this sport, and what really amazes me is that year after year many players come back even though they must know they do not stand a chance of making a living. I can only think that it is their love of the sport and that we all have to have a dream, unfortunately to many that's all they can have. However against the odds they perhaps have a glimmer of hope with next seasons introduction of the qualifying school, as I have mentioned before on this page I truly believe it is a good idea. The lower ranked players will have their own league where they will be able to compete on more even terms and actually win something!!.

My tips for this coming season are for Ronnie O'Sullivan to regain his composure and start to make amends for his poor performances last season. I feel he has had to cope with far too much for a young man, but I have a hunch he has turned the corner now and will let his cue do the talking. Having said that though he is unpredictable so you never can be sure, but then that is what makes him so watchable. Stephen Hendry will still be the man to beat I am sure, but I think he is in danger of losing his number one title this year. There is bound to be more young first time tournament winners this year, there are so many to choose from so I wont gamble on the names. I have to say that I was very surprised to see Terry Griffiths retire, I knew that it was rumoured that if he fell out of the top 16 he would retire, but I thought he would change his mind once it came to pass. My personal opinion is that too many older players seem to sit back and try to contain young agressive players, they should attack them and play them at their own game. To me Terry was a great cueman but I would have liked to see him open up and not give a damn and see what happened. Anyway enough of my ramblings, if you have enjoyed my page then please write and tell me, and if you haven't tell me too!!!.

Richard Fountain

The Fountain is a column written by Richard Fountain from England. He is the manager of Mark King, a new and promising player who was provisionally 37 in the new rankings for 95-96. He will be writing to you throughout the snooker year and will try to give you all the inside info on this great game. Please feel free to write him <richfo@globalnet.com.uk> with any questions you may have.

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