Cambodia 2023 : All Eyes on TeamSG's Quest to Regain the English Billiards Men's Singles Gold!
TeamSG's Peter Gilchrist competed at the Hanoi SEA Games in 2022. Photo Credit : Sport Singapore
The cuesports national scene in the last few years, has witnessed a wave of success both on and off the pool table. From the competitions point of view and as 1 of Pool's youngest stars, Aloysius Yapp has been the "talk of the town" ever since he became world number 1 in 2021. Currently 27 years of age, his accomplishments include a 2nd-place finish in the 2021 US Open Championships, a bronze medal at the World Games in 2022 and winning the Michigan Open twice over the last 2 years.
On the home front, cuesports received a massive boost when 7-time World Champion Ronnie O'Sullivan, opened his inaugural Snooker Academy (RoSSA) in the Lion City. With the aim of nurturing talented players in Asia, the Academy is housed in a 16,000 square-foot venue at The Grandstand, with 12 snooker and 16 pool tables. And on the regional front, our Team Singapore athletes bagged a total of 15 medals including 2 gold, in the last 2 Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) campaigns over the last 3 years. Meanwhile, the 32nd SEAG officially opened in Cambodia last night, as the kingdom is playing host to more than 12,000 athletes and officials. They include Team Singapore's 6-member cuesports squad.
There's a great deal of interest to see if the Republic's 6-time World Champion Peter Gilchrist can regain the Singles gold in the Men's English Billiards competition. 27 year old Aloysius Yapp is also gunning for his 1st individual Gold in Pool, while debutant Ong Jia Jun might prove to be a wildcard success in the snooker competition at the 32nd SEAG. Well recently, ActiveSG Circle caught up briefly with the President of Cuesports Singapore, plus quick quotes from Peter, Aloysius and Jia Jun ahead of Cambodia 2023.
Justin Lee (President, Cuesports Singapore) at Old Trafford. Photo Credit : Justin Lee
Justin : Our athletes have trained hard to prepare themselves for the Games. I hope they're able to express themselves and perform to their best abilities.
Q : Who are you hoping to deliver for TeamSG?
Justin : Cuesports at the SEA Games are played at a very high level. Competition from our fellow Southeast Asian nations are world class. At this level, it could come down to one mistake from 7 days of competition to decide gold from silver. My hope is that our athletes are able to deliver their best, hold their heads high and be proud that they wear our nations flag.
Q : Can you name 1-2 athletes for Singaporeans to look out for?
Justin : Peter Gilchrist (Billiards) and Aloysius Yapp (Pool).
Q : What are the key events for our TeamSG athletes after the SEA Games?
Justin : At the end of May, we'll be competing in Pool at the UK Open. Also happening at the end of the month, are the Irish Billiards Open and World Matchplay Championships. That's followed by Q School events in June-July, which represent the qualifiers for the World Snooker Tour.
Aloysius : I'm feeling pretty good, after having a training stint in Taiwan. And since it's before the SEA Games, it is definitely helping to keep me match fit for the Cambodia campaign. I hope to do my best there.
Q : You've been busy in the United States over the last few months, picking up a few wins. Can you briefly tell us about your current form?
Aloysius : I'm playing and feeling pretty good about how I've been competing recently. Have been adjusting some things in my game, and so far I feel it's been paying off.
Cambodia 2023-bound TeamSG athletes Aloysius Yapp, Ong Jia Jun and Toh Lian Han. Photo Credit : Cuesports Singapore
Aloysius : Yes, the gold medal is still the main target for me. I'm just going to focus on one rack and one match at a time and make sure I give 100% commitment to all decisions I make when playing in my matches.
Aloysius : Everyone! Most of them are the same players I compete with in the world pool scene. It's going to be tough in Cambodia, but I will make sure to give it my all.
Q : What's next for you in 2023, after the SEA Games?
Aloysius : I will be featuring in a couple of competitions, most notably would be the upcoming UK Open at the end of May.
Peter : Looking forward to it. Competing for Singapore always brings a special feeling.
Q : At the end of January 2023, you were back as World No 1 after taking the Scottish Open trophy. Since then though, you’ve maintained a rather low public profile leading up to the Games. How’re your overall preparations coming along?
Peter : Everything is going well, I’ve been focusing more on the very short format billiards which the SEA Games billiards event is all about.
Peter Gilchrist (middle) settled for the Silver medal at the English Billiards Men's competition at the Hanoi SEA Games. Photo Credit : Sport Singapore
Peter : Winning 6 of the last 7 individual gold medals, is an achievement I’m very proud of. It was nice winning the doubles for the first time, but unfortunately, there’s no doubles this year, so full concentration on the singles event!
Peter : Certainly is!
Q : Who is your biggest threat likely to be from the ASEAN region for the coming Games?
Peter : Thailand and Myanmar have world class billiards players, so I won’t be taking anything for granted.
Q : What's next for you in 2023?
Peter : I have the World Matchplay Championship straight after the SEA Games, so I will be getting a flight straight after the billiards event is over…hopefully with the Gold medal in my pocket!
Jia Jun : Feeling pretty relaxed and looking forward to it.
Q : Can you briefly take us through your preparations?
Jia Jun : Have been putting in more hours and sparring more regularly to keep myself prepared.
Q : As a newcomer to the SEA Games, who do you look towards for advice while prepping for the trip to Cambodia?
Jia Jun : Coach Bernard Tey.
Q : Where is the toughest challenge likely to come from the ASEAN region?
Jia Jun : Probably Malaysia & Thailand.
Q : What's a good result in your debut Games?
Jia Jun : Not giving myself any pressure, but any medal would be a good result.
Q : What's next for you in 2023, after the SEA Games?
Jia Jun : Most likely Q school in June/July (Qualifiers for the World Snooker Tour)
TeamSG's Snooker player, Ong Jia Jun. Photo Credit : Cuesports Singapore
The Cuesports competition at Cambodia 2023 begins from 7 May onwards.
Watch the Games LIVE on Singtel TV, Singtel TV GO, Singtel CAST and mewatch.
For the latest on our TeamSG athletes, visit https://www.teamsingapore.sg