Bellingham and Alcaraz show mutual appreciation – Thursday’s sporting social

By Sports Desk September 07, 2023

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  • Snooker’s ‘golden ball’ set for debut – what is it and how does it get potted? Snooker’s ‘golden ball’ set for debut – what is it and how does it get potted?

    Snooker becomes the latest sport to head to Saudi Arabia this week and with it comes a new twist – the golden ball.

    The 23rd ball will make its debut at the World Masters of Snooker in Riyadh, which runs through to Wednesday, and here, the PA news agency looks at how it will all work.

    What is the golden ball?

    Traditionally snooker has comprised of 22 balls; 15 reds and six colours plus the white cue ball, but the World Masters is introducing a 23rd – the golden ball. The purpose of this new ball is to increase the maximum possible break which currently stands at 147 – 15 reds followed by 15 blacks. Should any player make a maximum, the golden ball comes into play with a value of 20 points, giving rise to the possibility of a 167.

    Where will the ball be on the table?

    Those familiar with snooker will know colours are potted in the following order; yellow, green, brown, blue, pink and black. The first three colours are spaced out along the baulk line at the top of the table and the golden ball will rest in the centre of the baulk cushion or, as you watch on television, the cushion at the top of the screen. If a 147 is made, the ball becomes live but, as soon as such a break is no longer possible, the ball is removed until the start of the next frame.

    What’s the prize and how likely is it to happen?

    Once upon a time 147s were a rarity and the first ever was made by Steve Davis in 1982 but, as the playing field and number of tournaments have increased, so have the amount of maximums and the 200th was made last week by Joe O’Connor. Maximum breaks once paid £147,000 and the game’s star attraction, Ronnie O’Sullivan, has been outspoken about the decrease in prize money over the years and once had to be persuaded to pot the final black when he discovered there was no money on offer. However, this week, the first place to make a 167 will receive £395,000.

    Which players are involved?

    O’Sullivan, the world number one and the sport’s greatest of all time, heads a stellar field of the world’s top 10 players who will contest for the trophy alongside two wild cards, Omar Alajlani and Ali Alobaidli.

  • Dimitri Van den Bergh derails Luke Humphries to win gripping UK Open final Dimitri Van den Bergh derails Luke Humphries to win gripping UK Open final

    Dimitri Van den Bergh finally derailed the Luke Humphries juggernaut after beating him in a gripping final of the UK Open.

    World number one Humphries came into the tournament at Minehead having won four of the last five major ranking tournaments, which included sealing glory at the World Championship at the start of 2024.

    He was a heavy favourite to add the UK Open to his collection after a trouble-free run to the final at Butlin’s, but the Belgian won a deciding leg to claim an 11-10 victory and seal a second major title of his own.

    It looked like he had blown his chance as he squandered a 7-2 lead and then missed six match darts, only to finally land his seventh after Humphries had missed chances of his own.

    While Luke Littler – who was a beaten quarter-finalist at Butlin’s – has stolen the limelight since his emergence, Humphries was proving himself to be the best player around so this defeat will be a tonic to the rest of the pack.

    And Van den Bergh, who excelled as youth player, will be hoping this can help kickstart his career, which showed early promise when he won the 2020 World Matchplay.

    He said: “First of all, he showed again why is he the world champion. There was a moment when it was 10-8 and I was like ‘I’m one leg away, I can win this’, and I lost it. I lost my gut but all of a sudden, it turned around.

    “My grandad died two years ago and this is my first major win since. This is gold and it’s for him.

    “You win some, you lose some, you have got to dig deep and keep trying.”

    Humphries said: “I have had a long five days on the road, I am absolutely shattered. I was very lucky to get two darts, I will obviously be gutted because I missed two darts.

    “But I did my best with the way I was feeling. I give everything, I really didn’t play well. I am proud of the way I played.”

    With Michael van Gerwen, Michael Smith and Gerwyn Price all crashing out in the early rounds, it seemed prime for another battle of the Lukes in the final, but teenager Littler was ousted in the last eight by Damon Heta.

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    The 17-year-old has made waves in the first few months on the PDC Tour, having claimed the Bahrain Masters in his debut tournament in January and competed well in the Premier League, but leaves his first major empty handed.

    He will have regrets about his defeat as, despite Heta’s incredible level, Littler rallied from 8-4 down and missed two darts at his favoured double 10 to send it to a decider.

    Littler said on Instagram: “Disappointed to not make it past the quarters but was a great game. Enjoying my darts and just grateful for everything.”

  • I’ve got to take it – Jemma Reekie secures 800 metres silver medal in Glasgow I’ve got to take it – Jemma Reekie secures 800 metres silver medal in Glasgow

    Home favourite Jemma Reekie took 800 metres silver on the final night of action at the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow for her first global medal.

    The 25-year-old Scot clocked a time of 2:02.72 as she finished 0.82 seconds behind Ethiopia’s Tsige Duguma.

    Reekie told the BBC: “I knew those girls were going to throw something at me that they were confident with, and they were just better than me today.

    “I didn’t want anything other than the win, but first senior medal, I made some mistakes and I’ll learn something from it.

    “It’s my first senior medal and I’ve got to take it. I’ve got one now and I definitely want one of those Olympic ones, and it will be a good stepping stone forwards.”

    There was also bronze for Great Britain in the women’s 4x400m relay earlier in the evening as the team finished with a haul of four medals.

    Laviai Nielsen, twin sister Lina Nielsen, Ama Pipi and Jessie Knight again set a new national record – as they had done in the morning’s heats – with a time of 3:26.36.

    They came in behind the Netherlands (3:25.07) and the United States, with Jamaica not finishing after the baton came out of Charokee Young’s hand on the third leg, seemingly via accidental contact from Pipi.

    Pipi said: “It was a really messy leg but I just stayed focused on what I needed to do and tried to give it to Jessie in a good position, and I think I did that.”

    GB’s other two medals had come in the form of golds on Saturday for Reekie’s fellow Scot Josh Kerr in the men’s 3,000m and Molly Caudery in the women’s pole vault.

    British pair Georgia Bell and Revee Walcott-Nolan were fourth and sixth respectively in the women’s 1500m final, and team-mate Cindy Sember was seventh in the women’s 60m hurdles, won in a new world record time of 7.65secs by Devynne Charlton of the Bahamas.

    The men’s 1500m final included GB’s Adam Fogg coming 14th.

    Also among Sunday evening’s finals was the men’s pole vault title being retained by Sweden’s Olympic champion Armand Duplantis.

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