The medallists have been decided at the inaugural snooker competition at the 2023 World Abilitysport Games in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
The final day saw five gold medal matches contested across five disability classification groups, alongside five bronze medal playoff matches at the Centara Hotel. The event represented the first time that disability snooker has been featured at an international multisport Games since the 1988 Paralympic Games.
The tournament was hosted by World Abilitysport, in partnership with World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) and the Billiard Sports Association of Thailand (BSAT).
The first gold medal of the day was won by Gary Swift of Great Britain, who recovered from the loss of the opening frame against Kurt Deklerck of Belgium to take gold with a 3-1 win.
From Sheffield, 52-year-old is currently ranked number two in the WDBS Group 1/2 rankings and is a former ranking event winner on the circuit. Victory in Thailand, however, represents the biggest achievement of his snooker career to date and since his Tour debut in September 2022.
The bronze medal was claimed by Numpol Thongpusawan, who won an all-Thailand clash with Chatchai Khamklon 3-0 to become one of four medallists for the host nation during the event.
Top ranked Tony Southern of Great Britain made it a title double for the country in the wheelchair category as he defeated Niwat Kongta 3-1 to earn what he would describe as the biggest win of his cuesports career.
In a dramatic final, it was Southern who claimed the opener with relative comfort, before adding a crucial second on the black, to avoid a respotted black and extend his lead to 2-0. Kongta responded by taking the third to keep his hopes alive, but it was Southern who would slot home brown and blue in frame four to seal an emotional victory.
There was some consolation for the home nation in the bronze medal playoff after Surasit Loisaratrakul defeated Wei-Te Cheng of Chinese Taipei 3-1 to clinch the final medal.
One of two gold medals to be won by host nation Thailand was that in Group 3, as Thanapol Seekao toppled two-time UK Disability Snooker Championship winner Adam Wilk 3-1 in the final.
Poland’s Wilk had not previously dropped a frame during the week, but had no answer to his impressive opponent who was making his debut appearance in a WDBS recognised event at the Games.
Bronze was claimed by Hong Kong’s Andy Lam, after the former WDBS Hull Open champion defeated Thailand’s Kaisorn Thongla 3-1 to secure his place on the podium.
The penultimate group saw two-time WDBS event winner Carl Gibson win an all-British final with former WDBS Champion of Champions David Church 3-1 to earn a landmark victory.
In a final that lasted little over an hour, Hull’s Gibson top scored with a break of 31 in what would prove to be the final frame of the match, before his opponent warmly embraced him as he conceded the match.
There was also to be a British final in the bronze medal match as Steve Cartwright edged out Nigel Brasier 3-1 in a hard-fought encounter to finish on the rostrum.
The final gold medal of the day was to be won by Thailand’s Saongkiat Raebankoo, who ended the challenge of Belgium’s Gerdy Dupont with a 3-1 success in the title match.
Perhaps appropriately it was to be the player who opened the tournament on table 1 back on Tuesday morning, who would finish the tournament as he secured a second gold of the day for his home country.
Having lost the opener on a respotted black, the Thai player dominated the following three frames for the loss of just 13 points as he scored victory in his first WDBS recognised event.
The bronze medal was won by Great Britain’s David Bolton, who needed just 42 minutes as he toppled compatriot David Moore in the playoff match.
The WDBS team would like to thank all of the many parties who made this historic tournament possible, including World Abilitysport, the Billiard Sports Association of Thailand, Rasson Billiards, Thailand Pool Tables, the Centara Hotel all of the referees, local organising committee and volunteers, as well as the players and their supporters.
Since 2015 WDBS has strived to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to play snooker and billiards around the globe and the unqualified success of this major international event has only served to reinforce the believe that our sport can one day be restored to the Paralympic Games.
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