World Disability Snooker Day Honours World Abilitysport Gold Medalists

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Gold medalists from the 2023 World Abilitysport Games were honoured as part of an unforgettable World Disability Snooker Day in Sheffield during the Cazoo World Championship.

Thanapol Seekao and Songkiat Raebankoo, champions of the Group 3 and 5 events, travelled outside of Thailand for the first time to visit snooker’s most famous city for the event where they were joined by English gold medalists Gary Swift, Tony Southern and Carl Gibson.

The gold medalists with Rob Walker and Abigail Davies on the Crucible stage

World Disability Snooker Day took place on Wednesday 24 April with a range of activities taking place on and around the day to raise awareness of disability snooker and the WDBS’ goal of restoring snooker to the Paralympic Games, as well as marking the incredible achievements of the World Abilitysport Games gold medalists.

In the build up to the day, Thai champions Seekao and Rebankoo were invited to Victoria’s Snooker Academy in Sheffield to meet and practice alongside current and former professionals – including 2020 World Snooker Federation (WSF) champion Ashley Hugill and 2022 WSF Junior champion Anton Kazakov.

Ashley Hugill watches Thanapol Seekao play a shot at Victoria's Snooker Academy

World Snooker Disability Day began with the players being introduced to the Crucible Theatre crowd by MC Rob Walker ahead of the morning session before the players headed to the media room, where they were interviewed by Walker in the press conference area where the winners and losers at the World Championship speak to the press after their matches.

Gary Swift is interview by Rob Walker backstage at the Crucible Theatre

Six-time World champion Steve Davis was in the Sheffield Winter Garden to welcome the players to the Cue Zone, where they took to the table to partake in activities hosted by WPBSA coaches, providing the opportunity to show off their skills to the local crowd and the BBC cameras.

A special presentation also took place in the Cue Zone, led by WDBS chairman Nigel Mawer QPM, acknowledging the hard work and dedication of regular tournament director Stuart Barker – who worked at the World Abilitysport Games in Thailand and was gifted with a frame filled with images and mementos from the event.

WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer QPM presents Stuart Barker in the Sheffield Winter Garden

Sports broadcaster Abigail Davies was on hand to speak with the players and WDBS Chairman Mawer for the BBC’s coverage of the day, which was shown on Thursday afternoon and highlighted the WDBS’ goal of restoring snooker to the Paralympic Games for the first time since 1988.

A photo from behind the camera at the BBC's Abigail Davies interviews World Abilitysport gold medalist Carl Gibson

The week’s events concluded on Thursday morning, where the players and other WDBS guests were given the backstage VIP treatment at the Crucible Theatre prior to attending the afternoon’s session. A backstage tour took them to the arena floor, provided a photo opportunity with the World Snooker Championship trophy and the chance to watch four-time World champion John Higgins on the practice table ahead of his first round match.

Tony Southern, Carl Gibson and Gary Swift backstage at the Crucible with the World Championship trophy

WDBS would like to thank everyone involved in making the 2024 World Disability Snooker Day a success.