Tough pot for SEA Games gold for Singapore’s veteran cue artist
Peter Gilchrist’s illustrious career spanning 30 years has seen him win six world billiards titles and medals at international tournaments, but the SEA Games is the “tougher challenge” that the 51-year-old Singaporean looks forward to every two years.
Gilchrist, who won the World Billiards Championship again last month, told The Straits Times that the shorter 100-up scoring format used at the SEA Games is “so cut-throat”.
“If the SEA Games had the longer 1,000-up format, I would be the massive favorite and almost unbeatable,” said Gilchrist, who has five SEA Games golds and has not been beaten in English billiards at the multi-sport event since 2009.
“But in the shorter format, I would be slight favorite at best because of my form and reputation, and a single mistake can be fatal because whereas there are only five 1,000-plus breaks in English billiards, there are probably thousands of 100-plus breaks.
“I’m really looking forward to the SEA Games and it would be great if I could win another one in the way I did at the last Games when I did not drop a single frame.”
Gilchrist was speaking at the Vineyard at HortPark on Tuesday, where he was presented with The Straits Times Star of the Month for October for adding his latest world title to the ones he won in 1994, 2001, 2013, 2015 and 2016.
The finish line is nowhere in sight for the Middlesbrough-born cue master, as he takes aim at becoming possibly the first athlete to win world titles across four decades with another triumph in 2021.
“I’ll probably stop when I start getting beaten often,” said Gilchrist, who credited Singapore’s Sports Excellence Scholarship, which he has been receiving since 2013, for keeping him in the game when he had to juggle his duties as national coach with training and competitions.
“But at the moment, I’m playing really well. I’ve won many tournaments, the World Championships were obviously the icing on the cake, and I’m world No. 1 by a mile, so this has been my best year.
“I did not knowingly choose a sport with such longevity – I was a speedy (football) right-winger back in the day and could run the 100 metres in about 12 seconds – but billiards is not a physical sport like athletics or football.”
The father of a six-year-old girl keeps fit by swimming and working out at the gym. He added: “Billiards is a bit like chess, where one can figure out the moves. It’s just that you got to have good technique as well. As long as I keep myself in fairly good shape, I can go on playing. I feel like I can go on for another decade.
“The late Fred Davis won the 1980 world championships when he was 66, and at the moment, there is no reason I cannot either.”
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