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Record event for World Disability Billiards and Snooker

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) staged its biggest event to date last weekend at the South West Snooker Centre, Gloucester.

Disabled snooker players in action

Entry numbers almost doubled from the previous year at the second Open Disability Snooker Championship across five disability classification groups (groups 1-5). As in 2015, three main competitions were contested, together with a Challenge Cup event for players not qualifying for the knockout stages.

First the first time at a WDBS event, prize money was offered to the finalists of each category, as well as the overall high break- thanks to support from Renishaw plc and the Paul Hunter Foundation.

Oxted’s Graham Bonnell retained the Group 1/2 title, the event for wheelchair players. He celebrated a 2-0 victory against Glyn Lloyd in the final. Earlier this year, Bonnell, visited the Alexandra Palace for a Masters backstage tour- a prize for his last year's triumph. He won all three of his group matches with only the loss of just two frames, before defeating Mark Parsons and Lloyd.

Nigel ‘Bandit’ Coton from Goulceby, Lincolnshire won Group 3. The 54-year-old plays with one arm following nerve damage as a result of a motorbike accident at the age of 17. He first defeated 2015 winner Daniel Blunn 2-1 in a dramatic semi-final, before repeating the feat against last year’s runner-up Andrew Harper in the decisive match.

For defeated semi-finalist Blunn however, there was some consolation as he claimed the overall high break £100 prize, from the Paul Hunter Foundation, with his opening day run of 49.

In Group 4/5 a second player defended their Gloucester title from last year, where India’s Raja Subramanian beat newcomer David Moore. With six breaks over 30 during the weekend, he survived a close match against Cwmbran’s Adam Leighton in the quarter-finals, before defeating countryman Vishal Malhotra in the semi-finals and Moore for the title.

Subramanian will next be in action at the 2016 World Billiards Championship, which runs until 26 October in Leeds.

Finally, the Challenge Cup was won by Daniel Lee, who edged out Birmingham’s Russell Broomhall in a one-frame final.

For the first time the WDBS also held a Learning Disability Snooker Festival with the support of Special Olympics Gloucestershire. The event included a formal six-red tournament, which saw Rich Yendle defeat David Mac to claim the title. Residents from Leonard Cheshire, who had previously visited the World Championship in Sheffield earlier this year, also visited during the festival and enjoyed opportunities to both watch and play snooker. 

The tournament was supported throughout by WPBSA World Snooker coaches Tim Squires, Bob Hill and Danielle Findlay.

WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer said:

“I am really pleased by how we are progressing. We have moved from fewer than 20 entries last year here in Gloucester, to 34 this year and had some long, but rewarding days. What I really like about this sport is that you have got players from one category acting as helpers for players in other categories. It is absolutely amazing the camaraderie that is coming out."

WDBS director Jonathan Adams added:

“I think that we have shown fantastic development over the last 12 months and I think that our players who have been with us since the start have been pleasantly surprised as to how we have grown, both on and off the table.
“The pathways that we are putting in place behind the scenes to develop the sport will only enhance players opportunities in the future. We have new talent coming in, both from abroad and within the UK, which is strengthening the classes and can only raise our profile as we grow as a governing body."

The next WDBS tournament will be the Hull Open which is set to run on 11-13 November 2016 at the Tradewell Snooker Centre, Hull. The event will be the second WDBS event open to players with visual or hearing impairments (Groups 7-8). It is supported by prize fund sponsors Hudgell Solicitors and Think Telecom. Disabled players are encouraged to attend the Friday open day and receive free practice and coaching.