ANTRIM snooker star Mark Allen has revealed that he competed in last week’s Masters tournament after battling with the symptoms of COVID-19.
The local man crashed out after a final frame decider against John Higgins - and while he came close, it was a curiously subdued performance from The Pistol.
Afterwards, he confirmed that his preparations for the tournament - which he won two-years-ago - had been thrown into disarray by coronavirus.
“It hasn’t been ideal but I won’t use that as an excuse,” he said.
His girlfriend had been unwell since Boxing Day, and soon he too was displaying symptoms.
“I sort of felt a bit of a cold coming on closer to the New Year, so she decided she was going to get tested and I thought I might as well do the same.”
Both were positive, and Mark conceded that he was ‘sort of surprised’ because at that point he had’not felt that bad’.
“But then I had three days over the New Year - the first, second and third - where I literally could not get out of bed and then that obviously had a knock on effect on my practice for the next 10 days.
“To be honest the COVID thing hit me worse than I thought, even though I was never in any danger.
“Don’t get me wrong, there were ones who got it a hell of a lot worse.
“The week after any little thing I done was sort of taking my breath away a little bit. I didn’t feel I had enough energy. I was constantly tired.
“It’ll probably take a bit of time to get over.
“As I say, it’s absolutely no excuse for some of the shots I played badly tonight.”
He conceded, however, that his own brush with the virus gave him a new appreciation of just how easily spread it is.
“I’d like to think that me and my girlfriend were to of the more careful ones,” he said.
“We always wear our masked and always sanitise everything. We don’t really mingle with other people.
“It just shows you how easy it is to pick it up because we were very careful.
“Whether it should be bringing the world to the standstill that it’s currently at I’m not so sure, but I’ll leave that with the experts.”
It has emerged that the local man’s brush with the virus came just weeks after an online troll wished him dead.
After another close 6-5 defeat in late November, Mark was subjected to vile abuse from an anonymous person on Instagram.
He branded Mark ‘the worst player in the world’ and accused him of ‘delivering’ the victory to his opponent.
And it went from bad to worse.
“I wish you could take COVID-19 and die, and your wife too.
“Your kids stay alive but they see beggars and drug dealers.”
A comment was then made about one of the local man’s children, which will not be reproduced in a family paper.
The troll added: “Your attitude is worse than that. A salesman like you doesn’t deserve compassion.
“If you don’t want to compete...I wish you all the worst but I hope you die.”
In response, the local man said that social media was a ‘very strange place’ and promptly reported the post to Instagram.
And, incredibly, they did precisely nothing about it.
“We found that this account likely doesn’t go against our community guidelines,” said a spokesman for the internet giant.
Mark was clearly not amused.
“Good to see Instagram think that previous message was okay,” he said.
Hundreds of fellow users supported him in that view.