World champion Stuart Bingham out to end ‘Crucible Curse’

Published: Friday 15th April 2016 by The News Editor

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Stuart Bingham will treat the famous ‘Crucible curse’ as a privilege rather than a burden as he begins his Betfred World Championship title defence.

Since the tournament moved to its Sheffield home in 1977, no first-time winner has returned 12 months later to again capture the title.

As the years have passed, the quirk has been labelled a curse, with each new champion well aware of the fate of those who have tried and failed before them.

After hitting his late thirties, Bingham began to lose hope he would ever taste glory in Sheffield, yet as an outsider he reached his snooker Shangri-la after overcoming Shaun Murphy in a gripping 2015 final.

Should Bingham never be world champion again, the 39-year-old would be content with his lot. But the Basildon-based cueman has a hunch he could break the so-called curse, dismissing the theory he stands no chance of carrying off the trophy on May 2.

“People said that last year and I won it,” he said.

“It’s an honour to have the ‘Crucible curse’ tagged on me this year.

“A lot of people haven’t experienced what I’ve had in the last year, so to have that chance to break the curse is going to be great. Nobody’s ever done it though so the odds are stacked against me. I’m looking forward now to Saturday and kicking it all off.”

Bingham faces a daunting opener against two-time losing finalist Ali Carter, who battled through three qualifying rounds to reach the main draw. Carter has twice recovered from cancer, and on the table the 36-year-old is among snooker’s great competitors.

Life has changed for Bingham since the night he lifted snooker’s greatest prize. His form slipped in the months that followed his World Championship success, as he became a scalp every player wanted, but a run to the recent World Grand Prix final was timely.

“There’s been a bit more pressure – mainly pressure on myself to try to play like a world champion – and it took me near enough 10 months to get used to it,” Bingham told Press Association Sport.

“The last couple of months have been pretty good. Life has been fantastic. I’ve been on things like A Question of Sport and other TV shows, and I’ve been to places I’d never dream of going, so it’s been fantastic really.

“I wouldn’t change it for the world. I remember when people like Shaun Murphy and John Higgins were world champion, and you’d definitely raise your game by 10 per cent when you played those type of players to try to beat them and make a name for yourself.

“I knew that was going to happen to me but I thought I’d be good enough to handle it, but for a while obviously that wasn’t the case.”

Bingham is trying to put himself in the mindset of being back at square one.

“As soon as I gave that trophy back on Wednesday evening that was it, it’s there to try to win it again,” he said. “I’ll be quietly confident but it’s going to be tough.”

Published: Friday 15th April 2016 by The News Editor

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