World champion Bingham proves snooker no longer holds age barrier
Stuart Bingham sensationally secured a stunning World Championship triumph at Sheffield’s prestigious Crucible arena, overcoming Shaun ‘the Magician’ Murphy 18-15 to prove that the sport no longer has age barriers at the top level.
‘Ball-Run’ Bingham became the oldest Crucible king since 1978 with his clinical world final display against Murphy, with Welshman Ray Reardon the most senior player to have won in 1978, securing his sixth title aged 45.
Essex-born potter ‘Ball-Run’ toppled two of snooker’s big-guns on his way to a shock victory, first outgunning five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, before dispatching baize hotshot Judd Trump.
Bingham’s prolific performances have seen him rocket to second in the world rankings and is a 25/1 shot with Coral to successfully defend his crown next year and beat the ‘Crucible curse’, having also sublimely shared the tournament’s highest break prize of £10k with Australian Neil Robertson for an impressive 145.
The 38-year-old cueist is the oldest first-time world champion in history, and has set the bar for future late-blossoming potters to follow in his footsteps at the Crucible.
As Bingham coolly meandered around the table on his way to a final frame break of 88, overcoming 2005 champion Murphy in the process, a new generation of older baize battlers may have been inspired, leading for the gentleman’s sport to take an unexpected new direction.
Players like Joe Perry, who won his first ever ranking event in March at the age of 40, three-time Crucible semi-finalist Barry Hawkins, Mark Davis, Mark King and Alan McManus can all take confidence away from Bingham’s inspiring World Championship coup.
Another who may surprisingly see ‘Ball-Run’s’ triumph as a sense of rejuvenated belief is ‘the Rocket’ O’Sullivan, who won his fifth Crucible crown in 2013 in his late thirties. Bingham’s fellow Essex-based potter is tracking down Stephen Hendry’s record seven Crucible haul, but Steve Davis’ six world titles is a more immediate goal.
As his 40th birthday closes in at the end of this calendar year, fan favourite O’Sullivan can take inspiration form Bingham’s achievements this year. Having earlier declared a potential passing of the guard, that handing down of the snooker baton may not be as soon as snooker lovers believed, with a host of older stars now hopefully aiming to follow the footsteps of this year’s world champion.
Bingham’s Crucible credentials are made all the more impressive by the fact he did not enter into the world’s top 32 until the 2006/07 season, despite turning professional back in 1995.
The highly-driven cueist has showed unrivalled commitment in recent years to achieve his goal, having also altered the date of his 2013 wedding and cancelled a stag party in order to compete in every tournament either side of his big day that season.
Upcoming baize prospects, and current youthful top 32 potters, such as Judd Trump (11/2 for 2016 Crucible win), Jack Lisowski, Anthony McGill and Xiao Guodong, will potentially face a late surge from the older generation cueists reviving their talents and, with plenty of events on the new formatted circuit, anything is possible.
One thing is certain, though, age is no longer a barrier which will restrict future world champions, with this year’s Crucible king Bingham having proved there are no longer limits when dedication is involved.