Ronnie O’Sullivan has revealed that he won his first-round match at the 2023 UK Championship while nursing a case of plantar fasciitis.
It is normally what ‘The Rocket’ does on the table that grabs the headlines, but as he began his quest for a record-extending eight UK crown, it was his choice of footwear that captured the attention of many.
Missing were the traditional dress shoes that snooker players are required to wear, and in their place a pair of black trainers were preferred.
“I’ve got plantar fasciitis which is, the easiest way to explain it is, it’s like a bruise on your heel,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport.
“So when you put your foot down, it’s really sore. Leather-soled shoes just absolutely batter my feet to pieces.
“So I’ve had to resort to getting some really big old soles on them, just to sort of give my foot a rest, basically.”
It comes hot on the heels of calls for snooker to relax its dress code. World champion Luca Brecel recently said one of the changes he would make would be to the attire, and that wearing a bow tie costs him around 20% in performance.
It didn’t deter O’Sullivan on Tuesday, however, as he came roaring back from losing the first two frames to McGill.
Watch O’Sullivan stride out wearing trainers for UK Championship match
It was far from vintage O’Sullivan, but it was a performance that still featured four 50-plus breaks, including an effort of 92 in the final frame to book his spot in the last 16.
“Tough start, obviously, 2-0 down [in] best-of-11 playing a very, very good player,” O’Sullivan added. “So I felt like I had to get a grip of the game at some point, but you just never know, it could be 4-0 at the interval and going out of the tournament.
“So you go through all those emotions, but you just hope you get a chance to do something. It’s not easy and there’s a lot of pressure out there.
“It’s pressure because you want to do well in these tournaments. These are the big tournaments, you want to have a good run in them.
“You want to win one, two matches and get into the meat of the tournament. Then if you get beat then fair enough, but you don’t want to go out in the first round.”
He will play either Thepchaiya Un-Nooh or Robert Milkins in the next round as he looks to create another slice of snooker history.
It’s 30 years to the day since O’Sullivan fully announced himself on the world stage at the age of 17 with a 10-6 win over Stephen Hendry in the final of the 1993 UK Championship, and should he prevail come Sunday evening, he will be the oldest and youngest champion of the prestigious Triple Crown event.
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It will also be his first ranking event title since the 2022 World Championship, and he acknowledged he has to “dig deep a lot more now” than he did when he first hit the scene as he paid tribute to Dr Steve Peters for prolonging his time at the top.
O’Sullivan said: “Since working with Steve Peters, I’ve kind of learned to just tough it out a bit and be a bit more resilient. So I feel I’m competing more than I ever did.
“30 years is a long time, but so has Mark [Williams] and so has John [Higgins], so it’s good that we’re still going and still enjoying it.
“I listened to John and he said, ‘I’m playing better than I ever have’, but it gets harder. You just don’t blow people away like I used to, so I have to really dig deep a lot more now.”
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