Amy-Claire King scoops three titles for SA, despite lack of support
King recently returned from Morocco, where she was crowned Africa’s female pool champion, at the All Africa Pool Championships.
However, despite her amazing exploits in the world of pool this year, the Joburg player has received little to no recognition for her victories, neither is she or her fellow South African pool teammates supported financially in any way.
“People just aren’t willing to jump on board because they see pool as a sport played in bars. It’s sad that people don’t know about how well our pool players are doing. They deserve the recognition.”
At the All Africa Championships in Marrakesh, Morocco, King walked away with the Africa Ladies Singles title, while the South African men’s and ladies pool team won the overall tournament.
For King, this means she has now won three major pool tournaments this year, including the prestigious World Masters Singles champion, at the World 8 Ball Pool Championships, in Blackpool, in England.
King says she is hoping pool players in the country start getting the recognition they deserve.
“Just the other day, I had a radio presenter laugh when I was talking about my training schedule and eating habits. No one actually understands how much work we all put in. I’m hoping to change people’s views and challenge them to actually find out how difficult it is to achieve what we have achieved this year.”
While she knows it will be difficult to get the recognition and support that sports like rugby get in the country, she just wants the sport to be noticed and for her and her teammates’ achievements to be acknowledged.
“I think it’s been absolutely incredible how the country has united through sports this year. I am stoked for the Boks and the netball team. Hopefully, one day, we will get pool noticed in the same way, so our beloved country has even more to celebrate.”
King is hoping that her team’s win, and her individual wins, will change the landscape of 8 ball in South Africa.
“We could really be helped financially. It’s tough to keep funding all these tournaments out of your own pocket. There would be nothing greater than managing to get some sponsors or partners on board, to take the pressure of funds off the ladies.”
But King says she lived in an “absolute dream world” this year.
“I have far exceeded any expectations I had, going into 2019. Winning the Ladies South African Championships for the fourth time, to then winning the World Ladies Masters Singles and now the All Africa Ladies Singles, has been absolutely breathtaking.
“I would never, in a million years, have thought I would hold all three of those titles in one year. That excludes winning every single team event I’ve taken part in, from local to international, and from ladies to men. I feel so blessed and grateful. I would relive it any day.”
Speaking about her victory in Morocco two weeks ago, King says it was a great experience, coming up against the best African female pool players in the world.
“I always enjoy going away and learning about a different culture. I found everyone very welcoming and friendly. The biggest challenge was the late sessions at night and then having to be up early the following morning.
“There were only four ladies teams that entered, South Africa, Reunion Islands and a Morocco A and B team. So in total there were only about 12 to 13 ladies.
“I have never known an All Africa Championship to have lots of women. Although they entered the ladies into the men’s and masters singles, in order for us to get to play more matches. I narrowly lost to one of the South African men in the singles 7-6.”
Despite heading into the All Africa Championships as female world 8 ball champion, King says she had no expectations of winning the tournament.
“I personally never put any expectation on this tournament. I was quite content with all that I had achieved prior to this tournament this year. In general, I am a very confident player but I knew I would have to play very well in order to win this title too so, therefore, I tried not to think about it too much. Although the pressure did hit me when I realised how close I was to having all three titles in one year.”
Although she went into the competition a favourite, it placed so much pressure on her to perform.
“I could hear people talking and discussing me as I went past them. Tournaments will always be very tough when you have a ‘name’. But the world title has given me confidence, which I never had before. I believe this helps me when playing in pressurised situations.”
While the 29-year-old has, this year, undoubtedly proven to be the best female pool player in the world, King still doesn’t see it that way,
“I wouldn’t call myself the best in the world. I still have a lot to learn. But one of my goals is to go down as the greatest player in history,” King said.