Ronnie O’Sullivan says he has a renewed appetite for success on the snooker table after working alongside top nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert.
O’Sullivan has already given his rivals food for thought by winning the Shanghai Masters and Champion of Champions this season and now heads to York in search of a record seventh Betway UK Championship crown.
‘The Rocket’ has worked closely with the Harley Street nutritionist, who he says has “re-educated him” about food.
“Before I met Rhiannon, I was playing well enough, but I was running out of steam,” O’Sullivan told Betway.
“I got tired because I was eating bad food. But once I started working with Rhiannon, I started eating differently.
“I’m getting 100 per cent out of myself now, whereas before I was probably getting 85 per cent of myself.
“I think the difference between winning two tournaments a year and winning five is them moments where I was able to see the match through the end without feeling like I wanted to go and have a kip.”
O’Sullivan is renowned as perhaps the most naturally-gifted snooker player of all time and is just three shy of Stephen Hendry’s record tally of 36 ranking titles.
The 42-year-old, whose health and fitness book ‘Top of Your Game: Eating for the Mind and Body’ hits the shelves in December, insists he is still required to put in the hard graft in order to maintain his blistering brilliance.
“I think most people think I was born with a cue in my hand and that when I get on the table it’s all a piece of cake,” added O’Sullivan. “But that’s not the reality. I have to work hard.
“There’s other top players. They’re so slight, but to make those gains on your opponent takes so much hard work and preparation. They make the difference between winning 6-4 and losing 6-4.”
O’Sullivan, who describes healthy eating and fitness as his “main passion”, first met Lambert in July 2017. “I was her guinea pig, really,” he says. “I bought totally into it and it made a massive difference to my life. I’ve learned how to put better nutrition into my body.”
He cooks every day when he’s at home and does so in batches. “I like to train, I like to go to the club, so I don’t want to be around a stove all day,” he says.
“Everyone’s got busy lives, so it’s good to have food prepped and ready to go – plus you save yourself a few quid.”
“I think the UK’s probably the worst place I’ve ever been for food,” he continues. “It really is. I see what some places serve up and I just think: ‘Wow. No wonder we’re not producing great athletes.’
“You look at other countries, what they eat, and it’s fresh, proper grub. I think it makes a huge difference to your development.
I travel in Europe a lot, to places like Bulgaria and Romania, and even there the tomatoes taste different, the cucumbers taste different. In the UK, it’s quantity over quality, and I’m trying to avoid being part of that system.”
O’Sullivan has compiled 978 career centuries and is on course to reach the magical 1,000 mark this season; he starts out as the pre-tournament favourite to retain the UK Championship crown.
The five-time World Champion is ranked world number three and continues to balance his selective tournament appearances with punditry duties for Eurosport.
“I still love playing,” he says. “When I say love playing, I like playing. Some days I love playing, some days I’m like…” He exhales.
“I love sitting there with Jimmy White and Neil Foulds. I love the crew at Eurosport – there’s no pressure. And I get to talk about a subject that I’m quite knowledgeable on.
“It’s a dream job, really. But then I’ve got my other head on, thinking that I want to be competing and doing the best at snooker, so… I don’t know.”
The Rocket begins his UK Championship campaign against rank outsider Luke Simmonds in York on Thursday afternoon.