Thorburn 'retires'

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The Independent Online

Cliff Thorburn, the only non-British player to win the Embassy World Championship, will not be competing on the professional circuit next season.

The 48-year-old from Toronto, successful in the game's premier event in 1980 and the first player to compile a maximum at the Crucible three years later, has not filed an entry for any of the 10 world ranking tournaments for the 1996-97 season, which starts in September. However, Thorburn, who plummeted from 41st to 91st on the world list after losing all of his nine matches last season, will still represent Canada at the World Cup in Thailand in October.

"I worked it out and realised I faced a couple of months involved in the qualifying rounds for ranking events and I just couldn't accept that," Thorburn said. "When you've played at all the major venues in front of capacity crowds it's hard to focus and get motivated playing with just one man and a dog watching."

Thorburn's decision comes six days after the retirement of the 1979 World Champion Terry Griffiths. But, unlike Griffiths, Thorburn may compete again if the qualifying procedure is amended in future.

"I'm not formally retiring and if things alter over the next couple of seasons I might consider playing again," said Thorburn, who also outlined his intent to support any prospective seniors tournaments.