SHEFFIELD: Paul Hunter has bravely decided to compete in the World Snooker Championship which gets under way today after being diagnosed with cancer.
The world number four, who reached the semi-finals two years ago, faces fellow Englishman Michael Holt in the first round at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.
Hunter has played on in recent months despite being troubled by stomach pains. Tests subsequently revealed six cancerous cysts on his colon.
The 26-year-old will face further tests during the tournament before undergoing a course of chemotherapy after the event.
Hunter, who had a cyst removed on a testicle three years ago, played in two Premier League snooker matches in Doncaster on Thursday.
After earning 3-3 draws with fellow Englishman Jimmy White and Hong Kong’s Marco Fu, Hunter said: “The news was a shock but I’m just going to get on with it and beat it.
“I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has sent me cards and e-mails, it helps me get through the days. I have not practised too much recently but I’m just going to give it my best shot.
“It was good to play against Jimmy. He was one of my heroes but he knows what I’m going through because he’s been there himself in the past. He’s been very supportive.”
White, a six-time world finalist, has continued to play at the top level after undergoing surgery for testicular cancer in 1995.
After hearing of Hunter’s condition, White said: “I just wish him and his family a speedy recovery”.
Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry also wished Hunter well.
“This is terrible news and puts things into perspective,” said the Scot. “We all wish him a very speedy recovery.” – Reuters