Crucible qualifier Chris Wakelin sets 12-month goal to improve game and get fit

By Sportsbeat's Will Jennings

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 12:41 pm
Wakelin is a seasoned campaigner and believes implementing a health drive over the next 12 months can prove the shot in the arm his career needs.
(Picture courtesy of Sportsbeat)
Wakelin is a seasoned campaigner and believes implementing a health drive over the next 12 months can prove the shot in the arm his career needs. (Picture courtesy of Sportsbeat)

Chris Wakelin is a man on a fitness mission and reckons shedding a stone in weight will help catapult him back up the world snooker rankings.

The Rugby potter went down 10-4 against David Gilbert in the first round of the World Championship in just his second Crucible appearance.

In 2018, in a thrilling final-frame decider, he almost knocked out Judd Trump in the opening round.

The world No.63 has endured a bumpy season on the behind closed doors circuit but reached the Gibraltar Open quarter-finals in March after reuniting with old coach Gary Morris.

The determined 29-year-old former Rugby College student, whose highest ranking was world No.44 in 2018, said: “In 12 months’ time, I’m going to be a hell of a lot fitter than I am now.

“That’s something that I’ve never really put anything into – I’ve done fitness in the past and been in the gym daily but I’ve never kept it up for more than two or three months at a time.

“I’d like to think that in 12 months, I can improve my game, my fitness and just generally be a better person on and off the table.

“We’re all going through a tough time at the minute and if you can make life better every day just by a little bit, then you’ll do well,” said the fomer supermarket delivery driver.

“It’s going to be hard work. I’m going to try and better myself in many ways and the first thing to do is to lose a stone, get myself out on the golf course and relax for a couple of months.

“Considering how my game’s been for the last 18 months, I never expected to get back here at the Crucible. I’ve been making some real progress in practice and have been working really hard at my game.I feel like I’ve improved a hell of a lot, which I did show in the qualifying but not so much here.”

Wakelin toppled China’s Xiao Guodong in the final round of qualifying to reclaim his tour card and book a first Crucible outing since 2018.

He battled admirably against Gilbert – ranked 48 places above him – on the Sheffield baize but was unable to cope with the 2019 semi-finalist’s blockbuster scoring power. The four-time ranking event quarter-finalist added: “To actually come through the qualifier, secure my tour card and be back at the Crucible playing in front of a crowd after the year we’ve all had was magic, even though it didn’t go my way.

“I’d like to think I can go deep in a few more tournaments. Considering how my game was three years ago when I got to a couple of quarter-finals and last 16s, my game since then has improved dramatically.

“I’m hoping now that I can keep improving through the summer and keep pushing forward – the goalposts get tighter and tighter every year and if everyone else is improving, you’ve got to step up as well.”

Watch the World Snooker Championship live on Eurosport and Eurosport app until May 3