Sport

Ronnie O’Sullivan puts Phil Taylor above Lewis Hamilton in sporting greats list

Darts icon Phil Taylor should be regarded as one of the sporting greats of all time, according to snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan.

The Rocket is on course to make history by winning another World Snooker Championship title as he leads Judd Trump 12-5 ahead of the final sessions at The Crucible in Sheffield today. A seventh world crown would see him draw level with Stephen Hendry and go clear of Steve Davis and Ray Reardon, who are both on six.

However, the 46-year-old would have to win another 10 to go level with Taylor in darts. The Power bowed out of the sport in 2018, although he recently returned to tournament action in Seniors competition.

It is unlikely anyone will ever get close to the 16 world titles that Taylor won during his illustrious career. As a result, O’Sullivan feels he should be rated as highly as the legends from other sports.

“I’ve got to say, Phil Taylor would be right up there,” he told Eurosport last year. “I know some people don’t classify it as an athletic sport, but if Phil Taylor played golf, he’d have been chasing Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors by now.

“Coming from a longer distance background, I obviously have a lot of admiration for world-class runners like Kenenisa Bekele, Eliud Kipchoge and Haile Gebrselassie. Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Tyson Fury, there are some phenomenal sports people out there.”

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One notable admission from O’Sullivan’s list is F1 legend Lewis Hamilton. The 37-year-old won his record-equalling seventh world title in 2020 and, in the view of many, was robbed of an eighth by the controversial finish to the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi as Max Verstappen pinched his maiden F1 crown on the last lap.

However, in the view of O’Sullivan, the fact Hamilton has had superior machinery for most of his Mercedes career makes his achievements not quite as great.

“It doesn’t mean as much as say a sport like tennis with Federer playing everyone on a level playing field, or Kipchoge running against everyone on a level playing field,” he said, reported The Sun. “So for me, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Phil Taylor in darts, Tiger Woods, Messi, Ronaldo… it’s there to see.”

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