John Hudson, won gold at Oz Masters snooker after having to learn to play with his left arm.
John Hudson, won gold at Oz Masters snooker after having to learn to play with his left arm. John Gass

Snooker champ is right on cue

LITTLE wonder Elanora's John Hudson is highly successful behind the lectern as a motivational and inspirational speaker.

The man is walking, talking, living proof that hard work and a strong mindset can help you overcome obstacles along the highway of life.

Mr Hudson's gift of the gab on the celebrity-speaking circuit is matched by his skills on the green baize with a cue.

A natural right-hander, Mr Hudson had long been a devotee of snooker and during his career has played against many of the biggest names in the sport - men such as Alex Higgins, the legendary Steve Davis, Cliff Thorburn and Eddie Charlton.

Between winning the snooker gold medal at the 2005 Australian Masters and repeating the effort at the recent 2011 Aussie Masters in Adelaide, Mr Hudson developed Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system.

Early in the course of the disease, the most obvious symptoms are movement-related, including shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty with walking and gait.

Later, cognitive and behavioural problems may arise, with dementia commonly occurring in the advanced stages of the disease.

When the shaking in his right hand prevented Mr Hudson from holding a cue, such was his love of snooker he was determined to keep playing.

That involved changing hands to play left-handed. He said it was akin to learning to walk again.

"It took me a full 12 months just to get physically used to standing on the 'wrong side' of the cue-ball," Mr Hudson said.

He practised (and still practises) a minimum three to four hours each day, seven days a week in a bid to "become proficient with my weaker hand".

Gradually his skills began to improve, so much in fact that he began to have success around the pro-am snooker circuit, culminating in him beating the highly proficient Gary Oxenham in the 2011 Masters final.

And don't think the masters is contested by geriatrics - Mr Hudson's age group was for players 30-59 years.

Mr Hudson was thrilled to complete such an extraordinary ambidextrous double in Australian Masters competition, but the real kick came later that night when he was back in his hotel room.

"Waiting was an email from my 17-year-old daughter, Tayla-Jaylee - 'Dad, I'm so proud of you. You are such an inspiration to me'."

Mr Hudson reports he is keeping the Parkinson's at bay through sheer willpower and the help of natural therapies.

"I am an incredibly determined person and I just refuse to let this get to me," he said.

"In fact I don't see the disease as a negative; I keep telling myself that I have this other 'wing' to play with and just get on with life."



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