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Carom Billiard - 3-Cushion - World Cup - Veghel (NED)

Dick Jaspers (56), a lifelong professional athlete

Posted by on November 2, 2021

Dick Jaspers (56), a lifelong professional athlete

© Ton Smilde
Dick Jaspers, ready for the new start of the World Cup cycle:

SINT WILLEBRORD - The high position of Dick Jaspers on the world ranking list is at stake again in the coming months. The best Dutch billiard player, who turned 56 this year, has been the best in the world for three years now. That is certainly due to the long COVID break, because no major events and matches were played for a long time. The World Cup in Veghel, Netherlands (7-13 November) will finally break the silence on the international stage. ''We are all ready for it, it's fantastic to play billiards on top level again'', says four times world champion Jaspers on the eve of the new start.

Dick Jaspers' status makes him one of the top favorites in a field with many world players, including Torbjörn Blomdahl, Marco Zanetti, Dani Sánchez, Eddy Merckx, HaengJik Kim and the Turkish star players in three cushion. ''I don't really play for my position in the world, winning and playing well are my ambitions'', that's how Jaspers goes into the World Cup cycle. ''I am curious about the progression of my competitors, I expect everyone has practiced and worked very hard during the Corona era.''

For the Dutchman himself, that motivation has been an automatism for all his years on top. Jaspers has lived as a top athlete almost his entire life: long trainings, physically and mentally, playing billiards, travelling, short periods of rest, and all days dominated by his sports career. Dick Jaspers: ''I am a hopelessly boring person in that respect. I've never drunk a glass of beer or smoked a cigarette. These pleasures have never interested me at all, even though I grew up in the Brabant cafe life of my parents.''

''I fully realise it's hard to live with a top athlete like me, but I do it my way. My girlfriend Heidi and I have a relationship, but actually we are more like good friends. We try to make it easy for ourselves, we're free to go where we want. I'm on my way lots of days. I have my two children, René and Annet, both my parents are still alive, so I'm a very lucky man. And to be honest, the future of my career does not concern me so much. I do expect that it will last another five or ten years. I'll let it come to me, it all depends on my level in the coming years. I certainly don't want to go on too long if I feel I can't compete with the best anymore.''

The long run-up to the World Cup in Veghel and later this year the World Cup and World Championship in Sharm El Sheikh has been one of playing and travelling. Six weeks in Korea during the summer months for invitational tournaments, recently ten days in Mexico for a tour with matches and exhibitions, this week two days up and down in Italy to test the new 'Jaspers-keu' by Longoni. ''I have not been ill, so I was lucky, I've avoided the risks as much as possible.''

The Longoni visit, because he's playing for this sponsor for thirty years now, gave Jaspers an insight into the new market. ''They made a fantastic new cue for me, 'the Holanda 30th', but I will not play with it in the World Cup just yet. I'm not the kind of person who changes quickly, I like certainty, I'm always attached to where I feel at home. Half of the world top players are already playing with the new carbon shafts. I won't, for the time being. But I did get a couple of Luna Nera shafts from Longoni to try out. It is the new development and a striking trend in the new three-cushion era.''

The progression of the game, the image and the professionalization of his sport fascinate him much more. And certainly the new developments of billiards as a TV sport. ''We are watching an enormous growth in material, clothing, organisations and the total image of our sport. I feel like it's great to be part of that. In terms of TV and image, there is a totally new mindset. The players realise that very well. I see an eagerness and urge everywhere to practice and play more games, live better for our sport and perform at a high level. I cannot deny that it has to do with the way our sport was coming up in the Asian countries, such as Korea and Vietnam, and in Colombia and Turkey. For me, personally, the financial support of my sponsors, Longoni, Simonis, Hollywood and Aura, has been an inspiration and an incentive to continue as a professional player. They have supported me in these hard times, I never will forget that.''

The calendar dominates his life, Jaspers knows. ''I am on the road for my sport for more than half the year. Every few months, we will travel to Asia again in the coming year, if Corona remains under control. The world events are coming up, same for the leagues and championships. I am really looking forward to it, because this is the life I want to live. Playing tough tournaments, always eager to win, still trying to improve my game. Just getting to the best level possible, that's my priority. And that's why I want to give my best for it: running, fitnessing a few times a week, a little rest for a while. And with my lifestyle, I'm mentally and physically prepared for the best.''

''I've seen three-cushion evolve enormously in the last five, ten years'', Jaspers says. ''The game has become very creative, mainly because of the social media. When I came to the top, we watched other top players every to learn from them. Now, these days, whenever a wonderful ball is made anywhere in the world, they will show it in a video on YouTube immediately and all people can replay it. The development is amazing, the level keeps rising.''

''I'll keep following it all, I keep participating, hopefully for years to come. When I came to the top, everything was much stiffer, much more conservative, now it is bursting with new developments. My sport is very much in flux, we all want to show that to the world very soon again.''




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My Comments

Dick Jaspers Seems To Get Better As He Ages
A nice article on Dick Jaspers. Exposing more of the human element from the top players makes articles more relatable. Being at the top of your game takes discipline and hard work. He has shown that he can do both. I hope he can continue to perform at the highest level well into his 60's. Raymond Ceulemans is an example of longevity and the ability to retain his skills into his 80's. Short of a major illness Dick should perform at the highest level for as long as he wishes. I wish him the best.

Steve Andersen

Message 1/1 - Publish at November 3, 2021 12:32 PM

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