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Mates log on for hot-shot Chris

CHRIS Norbury's friends will be glued to their computer screens on Monday night as he takes part in the World Snooker Championship qualifiers in Prestatyn.

BIG BREAK: Chris Norbury
BIG BREAK: Chris Norbury

CHRIS Norbury's friends will be glued to their computer screens on Monday night as he takes part in the World Snooker Championship qualifiers in Prestatyn.

The 17-year-old, in his first full year on the professional Challenge Tour, has to come through eight matches to make the prestigious championship at the Crucible in Sheffield - but he is ready to give it a go. First up, he faces his training partner Steve Rowlands, from Preston, on Monday night, starting at 7pm, in the best of nine frames.

"All my friends watch where it gives live scores. As soon as we finish the frame it is straight on the internet so they all think it is brilliant," he said.

If he gets through this, he is next in action on Thursday night. "I haven't looked any further than that - I am just taking it one match at a time," he said. "It is a long way off but it is exciting."

The former Moorhead High School pupil did enter the event as an amateur last year.

"I had to win something like 12-15 rounds to get through, it was a different format and lost in my first match 5-4 on the black. But I am better this year. Since I have left school, I have been able to practise more, play more competitions and I am a better player."

Chris, who has competed for England Under 19s in the World Championships where he made the semi-finals in Latvia last May, practises at his home or Potters Snooker Club in Great Harwood with Preston high-flyer Ian McCullouch.

"I am lucky enough to have a table in my home but also lucky to practise with Ian. We have been good friends for years now as we have the same coach. It is great to practise with someone like him - he is the world number 19 and it can only work to my advantage."

Chris recently won a Young Sports Personality award from the Lancashire Playing Fields Association. But he is eyeing bigger prizes in the future and is hoping to make a big enough impact to get a world ranking.

"There are 256 professional snooker players and the rankings are the top 128. Of course I want to get a ranking. The season runs from September to May and I have only played two matches so far this season. Unfortunately I have lost them both."

The first he lost 4-3 and the second 4-1 to former World number two Tony Knowles.

"The aim now," continued Chris. "Is just to win as many of the qualifying matches as I can and see where it takes me."

His hero is the Embassy World Champion of 2001 Ronnie O'Sullivan who he met when the world number three made a visit to East Lancashire at Hyndburn Sports Centre last year.

"He had come for an exhibition match and he watched me play. He spoke to me and said he was impressed. He asked me for my telephone number and said if he was in the area he would have a game with me. Just the fact he asked for my number, even if he never comes, means a lot to me!

"But my aim is to get to the top and I would like to think I can do it. I have just got to keep practising hard."


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