Stuart Bingham: Reigning world champion hopes to end 'Crucible Curse'
|2016 World Snooker Championship|
|Venue: The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 16 April - 2 May|
|Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC Red Button, BBC Sport app, Connected TVs and online.|
World champion Stuart Bingham is taking inspiration from his surprise victory last year as he looks to end the "Crucible Curse" in Sheffield.
No first-time winner has successfully defended the World Championship at the venue, but the Essex potter sees no reason why he cannot end the hoodoo.
Bingham gets the showpiece event under way against Ali Carter on Saturday and wants to prove people wrong once again.
"I've still had people saying it was fluke," Bingham, 39, told BBC Sport
"But I would love to see people fluke beating Ronnie O'Sullivan, Judd Trump, Graeme Dott, and then Shaun Murphy in the final. That's obviously what you get; you get some haters.
"People wrote me off last year and said I couldn't win it, so who's to say I can't win it again?"
No sinking feeling
World number two Bingham beat Murphy to win the sport's biggest prize in 2015 and, almost a year on, he is still coming to terms with his life-changing victory.
"To be honest I don't think it has sunk in yet," the Basildon-born potter said.
"Graeme Dott [the 2006 world champion] said to me that it might be one of those that only does sink in when your career ends and you look back at what you have won and think 'wow'."
And even though Bingham has not won a tournament this season, being world champion has been "special" and he feels he has been getting back to his best in recent weeks.
He reached the semi-finals in the Shanghai Masters in the early stages of the season and the last four at the Masters in January, when he lost to Ronnie O'Sullivan.
A run to the final of the World Grand Prix last month saw him lose a final-frame thriller to Murphy and he then backed up that performance by making the last eight at the China Open.
"The last two or three tournaments I have felt like my game is there," Bingham added. "I showed some grit against Shaun and somehow got to 9-9. It shows I am in there and fighting.
"With the year I had the confidence isn't as high as I wanted it be but I am winning matches again."
Forever a world champion
Whatever happens in Sheffield, Bingham knows he has already joined a select club and that stepping out as reigning world champion at the Crucible will be another "fantastic" moment.
"I am looking forward to going back. I don't know how it will be walking out there and being introduced as world champion," he added.
"It will be a bit weird and there will be a big pressure. I will have emotions flying everywhere so I am just going to enjoy it like I did last year and see what happens.
"To get my name engraved on that trophy forever means more than the money."