Maflin hopes win will have Norway kids swapping skis for snooker

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Maflin missed out on a magical Crucible 147 but hopes his win over David Gilbert can inspire the next generation of Norwegian talent
Maflin missed out on a magical Crucible 147 but hopes his win over David Gilbert can inspire the next generation of Norwegian talent

Kurt Maflin hopes his shock World Championship triumph will have Norwegian children swapping ski slopes for snooker cues, writes Will Jennings.

Maflin, who lives in Oslo but was born in Southwark, stunned world No.12 David Gilbert at the Crucible as he won a 10-8 thriller to book his place in the second round against John Higgins.

Snooker is far from a mainstream sport in Scandinavia and world No.43 Maflin hopes his first round win can make it more visible for the younger generation.

When asked if his win would help increase the sport’s profile, the 36-year-old said: “I hope so.

“Snooker’s got bigger over the last ten years, but obviously it’s still on a really small scale.

“I’m hoping this kind of thing can help - Norway has every tournament on Eurosport’s out there, so hopefully some of the younger kids can start not just going on skis, but getting their cues out too!

“I just want to say a massive thanks to my family - my wife, my children but also everyone in Norway.

“I’ve got a lot of engagement in Twitter messages, normal messages and they love it in Norway and they support me a lot, so I really appreciate that, so thank you.

“You’re not really going to get much tougher than John - he’s definitely in the top three or four players of all-time, so it’s just going to be really enjoyable to play him.

“I hope I get off to a good start and let him know that I’ve come to play - I’d say the pressure’s pretty much off.

“I feel like if I play my game then I can beat anyone on my day, so there’s no pressure.”

Maflin’s appearance in Sheffield marked his first since 2015, where he lost a similarly pulsating battle 10-9 against current three-time world champion Mark Selby.

And he says memories of that heartbreaking decider came flooding back at 9-8 up against Gilbert, with his seeded opponent at one stage looking well-poised to level the scores and tee up a late night finish.

The match proved a topsy-turvy contest throughout as both players showed all their break-building prowess, with the Norwegian star racking up four ton-plus visits to leave Gilbert in the chair.

And one of those was a brilliant 105 that saw him pot 14 reds and 13 blacks, giving him a shot at Crucible nirvana with a potential maximum break of 147.

An unfortunate kiss on the yellow after a brilliantly-potted red dashed his hopes, however, prompting a humorous reaction from Maflin that saw him show a rude gesture towards the cue ball.

The incident went viral on social media and despite getting a reprimand from the referee, Maflin says no harm was intended from his jovial jibe.

“I’ve never done anything like that before - I just felt like I worked really hard to get into that position, and the pot was hard enough on 104,” he added.

“I don’t know what happened, but it was just one of those reactions where I thought for f**k sake!

“I thought the referee was telling me to tuck my shirt in or something, but she said she was going to have to warn me for my gesture!

“There was no offence to anyone apart from the cueball! That was just fun and I didn’t mean anything by it.”

Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July -16th August with analysis from Jimmy White.