Neil Robertson, vegan snooker player
World class snooker ace
As a world champion player who has topped the rankings, snooker’s Neil Robertson is one of the best known and highest achieving players.
The Australian left hander turner professional in the 2006/7 season. He was already known in Australia, having become the youngest player to make a century break in an Australian ranking tournament at age 14. At 17 he made the third qualifying round of the 1999 World Championships, and in 2003 he won the World Under 21 Snooker Championship. The win gave him World Tour status.
In 2006/7 he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-1 to become the fourth Australian to reach the semi final of the Grand Prix, which he went on to win. He also won the Welsh Open and the World Open.
In the 2009/10 season his win in the Grand Prix final gave him his fourth title and made him the most successful player from outside the British Isles in ranking tournaments. He also logged his 100th career century break, made his first official 147 break, and won the World Championhip and the World Open.
In 2010/1 he defended his World Grand Prix title and the World Open for a third time. In 2011/2 he won the Masters, and in 2012/3 he won his 7th ranking event (China Open). The next season saw him record his second maximum break in the China Open, which he won, then win the UK Championship in 2013/4. This made him the first non-UK player to win the Triple Crown of World Championship, UK Championship and Masters.
In 2013/4 he reached 103 century breaks in a season – breaking the previous record of 61. Rival Ronnie O’Sullivan had spoken about his breaks as "probably the most phenomenal scoring in the history of the game."
Nicknames 'The Thunder from Down Under', Neil remains the only Australian to have won a world ranking event, one of eleven players to have ever won both World and UK titles, and one of only ten players to have won the Triple Crown.
Although he doesn’t commonly use the term, Robertson is a dietary vegan. He never eats animal products, always accommodating his dietary requirements when travelling. Because he has not eliminated all other non vegan products, he does not describe himself as a vegan. For example, he has been unable to source vegan snooker shoes.
“Going completely vegan is something I could see myself doing in the future” Neil told us in May 2015, six months after moving to a 100% plant based diet. “It certainly makes me feel like a better person for the change and knowing we can get everything we need on a plant based diet.”
Originally Neil was motivated by health. “I felt I needed to eat healthier to give my self the chance to get the most out of my career. I was pretty interested in the vegan diet for months before I decided to give it a try through speaking to Peter Ebdon who has been vegan for about 3 years now.”
Like many people, Neil is a big fan of juicing and smoothies.
“I always start the day with a carrot juice with my juicer followed by a 6 banana smoothie with half a bag of kale for breakfast. I bring another smoothie with me to the club which has another 6 bananas in it mixed with some other fruit. When I get home I make a salad and for dinner usually a pasta or rice dish.”
With so many achievements, we were unsure which Neil would identify as his greatest. He is particularly pleased about “winning the World championship, Masters and UK championship.” He also highlighted “becoming the 1st non British player to win the Triple crown. I've also been number 1 in the world during different stages from 2010 to present.”
The intense concentration needed for his sport means that health is a concern for friends, family and coaches, although there were only minor issues that Neil could recall. “At first there are people who were concerned but that came from not knowing exactly what a plant based diet is. ‘Where do you get your protein’ is the most common question! All my family are very supportive and a few are vegetarian.”
In March 2015 he competed in the Gydnia Open in Poland, his first tournament as a vegan, which he won. Also in 2015 he won the UK Championhip - his first ranking tournament as a vegan. It was the first tournament in which the final featured two non-British players and Neil also made history by making the first maximum 147 break in the final.
In 2016 he was runner up in the Welsh Open and won the Riga Masters - both ranking tournaments.
Aged thirty three (when we spoke to him in 2015), it seemed that Neil had achieved all that he could have done, but shortly before speaking with us, Neil was reported as saying that he felt he had underachieved in his career.
“I'm hoping to add further World, Masters and UK titles to my career and win as many ranking tournaments as possible. Reaching my potential is my greatest goal.”