Interview | WST Hall of Fame Inductee Daniel Blunn

Home » Interview | WST Hall of Fame Inductee Daniel Blunn

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) caught up with Daniel Blunn at the recent Wilson Interiors Hull Open after he was inducted into the Johnstone’s Paint WST Hall of Fame earlier this month.

Last weekend’s event at the Tradewell Snooker Club began with a special announcement from WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer QPM, who invited everyone in attendance from across the world to take a moment to congratulate Daniel Blunn, after he made history by becoming the first WDBS player to be inducted into the Johnstone’s Paint WST Hall of Fame.

“It’s unbelievable to be honest, I didn’t see it coming, it was a lovely surprise,” Blunn said.

“I just got an email and I couldn’t believe it. People are very generous and I have had so many messages of ‘well done’. The news soon gets out and I’ve been to a couple of places lately where people have announced it in front of a crowd.”

Daniel Blunn holding his cue by the table while considering a shot

Since it was first established in 2011, just 37 individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the sport have been inducted into the Johnstone’s Paint Hall of Fame, which now includes Blunn – who entered alongside 2023 World Snooker champion Luca Brecel in the ‘class of 2024′.

A combination of pride and the fact that the news is still sinking in is clear to see from Blunn as he proudly explained: “It is an honour to be alongside those great players.

“Ronnie (O’Sullivan) is the biggest draw in the game and I’m alongside him. There’s Stephen Hendry who dominated the game in the 1990’s, Steve Davis in the 1980’s, then you’ve got the likes of Joe Davis who you could call the pioneer of the game.

“It’s incredible really – I was on a picture alongside Luca Brecel, I didn’t see that coming!”

Daniel Blunn holds up his certificate after success at the Welsh Open and points to a picture of himself on a nearby banner

Blunn is the WDBS’ most successful ever player, winning a record 16 individual titles and became the inaugural world number one in his Group 4 classification when the WDBS rankings were launched in April 2020.

He competes in the ambulant Group 4 classification, having suffered with cerebral palsy since birth, but does not let the condition affect his snooker or daily life.

“I’ve had that since birth,” said Blunn. “I was born 13 weeks early so that might be the culprit for it! The way it affects me in general life is mobility impairment, mainly on the right-hand side of my body, but I don’t let it become a hinderance to me.

“I do the best I can with it. If I’ve been playing snooker or doing anything physical for a while then I do tire, but that’s just the way it is and it’s not going to stop me doing anything – we are all our own people aren’t we?”

Daniel Blunn competing in the first ever WDBS event in 2015

The 32-year-old has been a part of the WDBS since its inaugural event, the 2015 Open Disability Snooker Championship held at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester, and has seen the tour grow in the following nine years.

“I can remember it well, you could see it was the start of something big,” Blunn said.

“That was the first step of many. Now there are more players, the standard has improved no end and the strength in depth is very good. We have more and more tournaments and we seem to be going abroad a lot more which is just incredible really!”

Daniel Blunn smiles for the camera during the 2020 Welsh Open

The Wilson Interiors Hull Open was the concluding ranking event of a 2023/24 WDBS season which has seen the continued global growth of the tour with ranking events held across five countries, as well as an invitational event in Shanghai, China and a milestone trip to Thailand for the 2023 World Abilitysport Games.

It was snooker, in particular a trip to the Belgian Open in Bruges, that first opened Blunn’s eyes to travelling abroad.

“It was the first reason I ever had to go – I had never been on holiday abroad before,” said Blunn. The first Belgian Open I went to was particularly memorable, I went for a few days and it was absolutely incredible. That opened my eyes to going abroad – before then, all I knew about aeroplanes was that they flew up in the air, I didn’t realise that flying is actually quite nice!”

Daniel Blunn competing in Bruges during the Belgian Open

Two Belgian Open crowns are among 16 titles won by Blunn on tour and he takes pride in each and every success.

“I could go through the whole of the 16 if you wanted!” said Blunn. “I can remember bits about each one. The Manchester Classic in 2017 was good because I used to play there in events even before the WDBS, so it was nice to get another title there on what turned out to be the last time we ever went there.”

The continued globalisation of the tour, which has seen the inaugural European Disability Championship announced for October in Portugal and talk of a first World Championships also in the pipeline, excites Blunn as he continues to push for glory.

Daniel Blunn competes at the Crucible Theatre

“I’m going to have to make sure my passport is up to date aren’t I?”, said Blunn. “I only got a passport in 2018 so I could go to Belgium, I had never had a passport before then, so I’m going to have to start clocking up a few more air miles!

“If I am at the planned World Championships then I shall want to get to that and I shall want to win that – that goes without saying. But I will look at that when it comes up, there are plenty of other things to play in first.”

The possibility of competing at the Paralympic Games, for which restoring snooker is one of the chief goals of the WDBS, offers another potential goal for Blunn.

“I think snooker belongs in the Paralympics quite frankly,” said Blunn. ”I think it has got to be there, it is a very popular sport and now the standard has never been higher. We haven’t done it yet, but we hope to.

“It would be fantastic to play in, I would be well up for that, but of course we have got to get there first – that’s the big aim and we can push for that as much as we can as players and the hierarchy do a great job of pushing it too.”

WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer QPM shakes hands with Daniel Blunn after success at the 2020 Belgian Open

Blunn, who began playing snooker on a small table at the age of 5 and currently boasts a WDBS high break of 72, says another of his aims is to become the first ambulant cueist to make a century break on the tour after compiling a 101 in a recent tournament at Breakers Snooker Club in Leicester.

So what would the WDBS’ first WST hall of famer say to the next generation of disability snooker stars?

“For anyone thinking of coming along to a (WDBS event), I would say don’t wait. Get your entry form and come along, because you don’t know what you’re missing out on!”