BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year 2018: Mark Williams profile

Mark Williams won his third World Snooker Championship in May, 15 years after his previous success
Mark Williams won his third World Snooker Championship in May, 15 years after his previous success
BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year award 2018
Venue: Celtic Manor Resort, Newport Date and time: Tuesday, 4 December at 21:00 GMT
Coverage: Results and updates on BBC Wales Today, the BBC Sport website, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru

Mark Williams rolled back the years in 2018 to win the World Snooker Championship for the third time, his victory in May coming an incredible 15 years after he last claimed the title.

His dramatic 18-16 victory over former world number one John Higgins in Sheffield was one of the great Crucible finals, and saw the 43-year-old become the oldest World Champion since Welsh compatriot Ray Reardon took the 1978 title at the age of 45.

Williams was 14-7 up in snooker's greatest tournament before being pegged back to 15-15 by four-time champion Higgins.

The Welshman responded to win the next two frames and had the title in his grasp, needing just a relatively straightforward pink to win but missed the championship ball and Higgins' 65 won the frame by two points.

Those are the sorts of misses that can shatter a player's confidence but Williams returned to the table unflustered, building a break of 69 in the 34th frame to get over the line.

No one was more surprised at the World Championship success than Williams himself, who had considered retiring the previous year and earlier in the tournament had downplayed his chances by saying he would speak to the media naked if he won the title.

After the epic final against Higgins, Williams duly walking into the news conference undressed apart from a towel.

Mark Williams bides his time during the 2018 World Snooker Championship as John Higgins considers his next shot
Mark Williams bides his time during the 2018 World Snooker Championship as John Higgins considers his next shot

Williams was born in Cwm, Ebbw Vale, and started playing snooker at an early age as well as boxing as a schoolboy, but snooker won out and he turned professional in 1992.

He claimed his first ranking tournament success in January 1996 when he won the Welsh Open, beating John Parrott 9-3 in the final. That success helped Williams break into the elite world top 16 for the first time that season.

The Welshman won the first of his two Masters title in 1999, the final against Stephen Hendry coming down to a re-spotted black.

Williams won the World Championship for the first time in 2000, pipping Matthew Stevens. Williams was 13-7 down in the final but stormed back against his countryman to win 18-16.

He lifted his second Crucible crown three years later in another tense 18-16 victory over Ken Doherty, capping a brilliant 2003 in which Williams had also won the UK Championship and Masters.

Williams was awarded the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in 2004.

At the 2005 World Championships in his match against Rob Milkins, Williams became the first Welshman and just the fifth player to make a maximum 147 break at the Crucible.

Williams continued to collect ranking titles, but when he won his 18th at the 2011 German Masters he could not have imagined he would have to wait another six years before his next.

He agonisingly missed out on a spot at the 2017 World Championship, finishing just outside the world top 16 and sparking a period of soul-searching as Williams questioned his love of the game.

But he persevered and collected a long-overdue piece of silverware in November 2017 at the Northern Ireland Open in Belfast, overcoming China's Yan Bingtao 9-8 to collect the Alex Higgins Trophy.

Williams went on to pick up a 20th ranking win just three months later at the 2018 German Masters, demolishing Graeme Dott 9-1 in the final.

Despite his return to form, Williams was still regarded as an outside bet at the Crucible but defied the odds to capture that incredible third World title.

After the thrill of Sheffield, Williams has continued to be a force in world snooker by claiming his 22nd ranking title - making him fifth on the all-time list - with victory at the Yushan World Open as he overturned a 9-5 deficit against David Gilbert to win 10-9.

That win in China cemented second place in the world rankings for Williams, making it almost certain he will be at the Crucible to defend his world crown next year.

Voting for BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year 2018 opened at 08:00 GMT on Monday, 26 November and closed at 18:00 GMT on Sunday, 2 December.

Full voting terms and conditions are available on the BBC website and will also be carried on radio and television.

The winner will be unveiled on Tuesday, 4 December.

This event is not connected with the UK Sports Personality of the Year and is for the Wales award only.

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