Snooker all-time great John Higgins hopes his weight loss can lead to a precious fifth Betfred World Championship gong next month.
The world No 6 shed the pounds after “struggling to breathe” during last year’s snooker showcase in Sheffield. And Higgins decided he had to make a drastic change after his 13-7 second-round defeat to Mark Williams last season.
Forty-six-year-old Higgins joined wife Denise for spinning classes last summer and combined with eating healthier staggeringly dropped almost four stone. And the slim-lined Scot is desperate to see if it helps in the Crucible pressure cooker.
“You look forward to the Worlds every year, of course you do,” Higgins told the Sportsman.
“I’d like to go back and see what I’ll be like going back there. It’s the first time in a few years where I’ll be physically a little bit better prepared for it.
“I would like to see how far I can go now I’ve lost a bit of weight. I’d like to see how that might affect me if I get through the first round or two. That’s what I would love to try and find out.
“I would love to see if it’s a benefit with the longer-framed multi-session matches.
“I’m still trying to keep on top of it and trying to eat better as well. I don’t want to go back to myself a year ago or 18 months ago.
“To be honest I was thinking about it last year when I lost to Mark [Williams] there. I knew I needed to do something and that was in the back of my mind when I started the spinning classes to lose weight. Obviously for your health as well.
“I didn’t want to go back to the Crucible with the long frames and long matches underprepared. I’m better prepared physically for the challenges that lay ahead at the Worlds.
“That’s when my focus changed and I thought I’d give it one last push. For me when I lost to Mark that’s when I started thinking about giving it a go.”
Higgins was painfully pipped at the final hurdle in three consecutive Crucible finals between 2017-19. He squandered a healthy 10-4 lead to Mark Selby to lose 18-15, then was beaten 18-16 in a classic with old foe Williams before Judd Trump dazzled his way to a famous 18-9 victory three years ago.
But the resurgent Wizard of Wishaw is back among the favourites to once again conquer the Crucible after reaching four major finals this season.
Evergreen Higgins has said winning a fifth world title would be his “greatest ever achievement” and it would certainly take the heartache away from his recent final near misses.
The all-conquering Scot suffered excruciating defeats in the Northern Ireland Open, English Open, Champion of Champions and Scottish Open finals this season as a coveted 32nd ranking crown has painfully eluded him.
But determined Higgins is confident he can right those wrongs on the sport’s grandest stage next month.
“I’ve been happy for a long while now,” stressed Higgins. “You just sometimes come up against players playing some great stuff and you just shake their hand and say well played.
“I feel good heading towards the World Championship. It doesn’t count for anything, but I do feel good. I’m quietly confident in the way I’m playing. I’m just quietly confident I can produce a decent level, if that level’s going to be good enough who knows?”
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