Ronnie O’Sullivan relieved at mental health talk and strugglers ‘shouldn’t be penalised’

Snooker supremo Ronnie O’Sullivan has said he is happy with the “balance” in his life right now, despite withdrawing from the British Open next week.

The current world No.3 also pulled out of the Championship League last month, despite winning his group to progress to the round of 32.

Instead of tour events, The Rocket has kept himself busy with a series of exhibition matches as he heads into the new season in relaxed fashion.

The latest of those low-stakes appearances was in Melton, where he took on a series of challengers at the Jackson’s Lounge snooker hall – an event hosted by commentary legend John Virgo.



Ronnie O'Sullivan has been appearing at a series of exhibition matches.
Ronnie O’Sullivan has been appearing at a series of exhibition matches.

O’Sullivan told the Melton Times he is pleased with how things are progressing at the moment.

He said: “During the past few years I’ve been playing more exhibitions as well as the tour. I’m happy with how things are at the moment. It’s good to have a balance.”

The 45-year-old, who has endured some mental health challenges himself in the past, praised one of his challengers, Stuart Hammond, for using the exhibition as an opportunity to raise £700 for charity MIND.

“It’s good that people are talking more about these issues and considering people’s wellbeing,” he said.

“Sports people struggling with mental health problems shouldn’t be penalised.”

Mental health in sport has been a hot topic in recent months, after Simone Biles’ withdrawal from the women’s all-around gymnastics final at Tokyo 2020.

The Team USA star pulled out of the competition in order to focus on her mental health, and was replaced by compatriot Jade Carey.



Simone Biles pulled out of the women's all-around gymnastics final at Tokyo 2020 for mental health reasons.
Simone Biles pulled out of the women’s all-around gymnastics final at Tokyo 2020 for mental health reasons.

A statement from USA Gymnastics praised Biles for “her bravery in prioritising her wellbeing”, while Olympics legend Michael Phelps hoped it would “blow this mental health thing even more wide open”.

Before the Games, tennis star Naomi Osaka had also brought the subject to the fore by pulling out of both the French Open and Wimbledon, citing mental health issues.

After his withdrawal from the Championship League and the first British Open on the tour in 17 years, O’Sullivan is tipped to return to competitive action in October for the Northern Ireland Open.



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