Gibbs beats nerves to pocket English crown

Olly Gibbs and his coach David Mumford
Olly Gibbs and his coach David Mumford
Martyn Power. Picture: Neil Marshall (161438-5)

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A teenage potter from Gosport left his coach purring with delight after overcoming a nervous start to claim a national title.

Olly Gibbs fought back from 2-0 down to beat Isa Ishtiaq 5-4 in the final of the English Under-14 Championship.

The 13-year-old admitted the occasion got to him in the early stages of the game at the South West Snooker Academy, Gloucester.

‘I was quite nervous going into the match,’ said Gibbs.

‘I went 2-0 down and missed some very easy balls, scoring under 10 points in each frame.

‘I was extremely nervous going into the final frame but when I won, I felt great.’

His coach, David Mumford, said: ‘Oliver did magnificently.

‘I told him “you don’t have to be at your best all the time, you have to be at your best at the right time”.

‘Oliver most certainly delivered in this regard and he should be proud of his win.

‘He now qualifies as an England international where he gets to wear the three lions on his waistcoat.

‘What a thrill for him and his family.’

Gibbs dug deep to square the match at 2-2 going into the mid-session interval and took the first frame after the restart.

Bradford-based Ishtiaq took the next two but Gibbs showed remarkable composure to force a tense decider, which hinged on a safety battle where the last two reds were almost touching the black that was hanging over a pocket.

Mumford added: ‘His natural style makes him a dangerous opponent.

‘He is fearless and a great long potter.

‘He is also not afraid of winning. Some players get nervous when it gets down to the wire but not Oliver.

‘He got stronger as the pressure built and this will undoubtedly stand him in good stead for the future. He knows how to win but doesn’t always do it the easy way.’

Gibbs, who finished 12th on the Cuestars South of England Under-21 Gold Tour and 10th on the EASB Regional Junior Tour (South West), reached the final by beating Havant’s Jamie Wilson 4-3 in the southern final in November.

Meanwhile, Mark Lloyd, also from Gosport, was narrowly beaten 6-5 by Sean McAllister in the final of the English Under-18 Championship.

He lost 8-3 to Lewis Gillen in the final of the English Under-21 Championship.