By Jack Cousin
Chinese referee Peggy Li made her Crucible debut at this year’s Betfred World Championship, refereeing two games.
She oversaw Ricky Walden’s victory over Luca Brecel and Kyren Wilson’s defeat of Matthew Stevens.
Li found out she was going to be a referee at the Crucible at the start of this year. She said: “I never thought I’d referee here! I’ve done some ranking events, but I never thought I’d go to Sheffield. It felt amazing and when it was over I thought ‘this is the Crucible, I’ve done it!’
“I wasn’t nervous. The venue, the security and the camera operators all do a fantastic job here. I didn’t have to worry about anything, I just focussed on the table. We sometimes forget about our positioning because there’s not much room to stand. But it was fantastic.”
Li started playing snooker in 1999 when she was studying in Australia. She said: “I played in a league there for many years. I won some state competitions, but I couldn’t enter national events because I didn’t have an Australian passport. I still wanted to catch up with my team mates, so they suggested getting a referee’s certificate because we had to referee our own games. So, I did, and I got my class three back in 2010 and have progressed since.”
Her highlights so far as an official include taking charge of the 2016 International Championship final in Daqing when Mark Selby beat Ding Junhui.
Learning from the professionals is one of the best things about being a referee according to 34-year-old Li. She added: “We stand behind the best players in the world. You can learn a lot from them if you play snooker like myself. I see a player do something good and think ‘I’ll do that next time!’
“There’s a lot of travelling on the snooker tour and sometimes you don’t get much sleep if you finish one match late at night and have another the next morning. But I really enjoy it.”