Medal winners! Back row left to right: Raja Subramanian, Steve Packer, Andrew Harper, Daniel Blunn, Tony Pockett. Front row left to right: Mark Parsons, Glyn Lloyd.
The new World Disability Billiards and Snooker body staged its first event last weekend, attended by players from around the UK and beyond.
The landmark event, called the 2015 Open Disability Snooker Championship, took place at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester.
The WDBS was launched in September with the intention to give more people with disabilities the opportunity to play cue sports.
There were three main events held at the tournament, incorporating five different disability classification groups.
Taking victory in the combined Group 4 and 5 event was India’s Raja Subramanian, who defeated Gloucester’s Tony Pockett 2-0 in the final.
His win completed a remarkable story for the 43-year-old from Mumbai, who came over to the UK especially for this event and next weekend’s LITEtask British Open billiards tournament in Bradford.
For the past seven years Raja has predominantly played billiards, rising to 25th in the world rankings in 2014. He impressed throughout the weekend in Gloucester, hitting several breaks over 50 and winning ten frames without reply on his way to a well-deserved medal.
The Group 3 event was won by Daniel Blunn of Sutton Coldfield, who defeated Andrew Harper from St Helens 2-0 in a tightly contested final.
The combined Group 1 and 2 wheelchair category was won by Surrey’s Graham Bonnell. Having topped his round robin group, he defeated Glyn Lloyd 3-0 in Sunday’s final.
There was also a plate event held on the tournament’s final day for the remaining ten players who had not progressed to the knock-out stages. This was won by Mark Parsons, who defeated Steve Packer in their single frame final.
In addition to their medals and participation certificates, all main event finalists will be invited to watch the Betway UK Championship semi-finals at the York Barbican and be presented with their medals in the main arena.
WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer said: “It has been a fantastic first event here at the South West Snooker Academy. I have been overwhelmed by the approach of the players to the tournament, how they have enjoyed it and the outcomes we have had. We have had some fascinating stories coming out of the event.
“This is the start of a very long road to get us back to the Paralympics and to get more people involved at grassroots level playing this great sport.”
British Paralympian and WDBS board member Jonathan Adams added: “It has been a brilliant event. To say that we would be staging an event of this magnitude four months after creating the WDBS is something that I didn’t think would be possible and it has just been tremendous.
“It’s amazing to see players from as far away as India coming here to compete. To see the way that people have been captured by other people’s stories and to see it come to reality, after the work we have done, is only going to be beneficial for the future.
“We are all aware of the difficulties and the challenges that come with dealing with disability sport and disabled individuals, but it has not been about the disabilities. It has been about the abilities on the table and we have seen how much the players have enjoyed the competition and the atmosphere.
“I believe that this has put us firmly back on the map. The future is only bright.”
Prior to the two-day tournament there was an open day for people with disabilities with coaching provided by Tim Squires of Snookerbility and Bob Hill, both WPBSA Coaches. Those in attendance also had the opportunity to have photographs taken with the World Championship trophy.
It is proposed to hold the next event in March 2016 for the categories not included in this event.
Results (knock-out stages)
Group 1/2 Final
Graham Bonnell 3-0 Glyn Lloyd
Group 3 Final
Daniel Blunn 2-0 Andrew Harper
Group 4/5 Semi-Finals
Raja Subramanian 2-0 Jayson Wholey
Tony Pockett 2-0 Brent Welland
Group 4/5 Final
Raja Subramanian 2-0 Tony Pockett