PARTAB RAMCHAND | 19 SEPTEMBER, 2019
Pankaj Advani - The Poster Boy of Indian Cue Sports
The 34-year-old cueist has been winning world titles in various formats
In this cricket crazy nation sporting heroes and heroines from other games hardly get the rewards, recognition and adulation they deserve. Most of the time their world class feats are inadequately covered by the media. Yes, once in a while Viswanathan Anand, Abhinav Bindra or a PV Sindhu emerges who on sheer force of their achievements are the recipients of several awards and figure prominently in the media coverage. And by his deeds on the international circuit in recent years Pankaj Advani has emerged as the poster boy of cue sports and has deservedly reaped the benefits of his manifold achievements.
The 34-year-old Bangalore based cueist has been winning world titles left, right and centre and in various formats. Just the other day he increased his tally of world titles to 22 by winning a fourth straight final in the 150-up format in the BSF World billiards championship in Mandalay (Myanmar). He breezed past local favourite Nay Thway Oo 6-2 in what was a repeat of last years final – the scoreline including.
Advani has brought home a world trophy every year since returning from a professional stint in the UK in 2014. In the short format of billiards this is his fifth world trophy in the last six years. Since 2014 Advani has focused solely on English billiards.
With another trophy in the bag Advani extended his remarkable run of wining a global crown since 2003. He clearly takes his place among India’s most consistent sportsmen. He has won more world titles in his sport than anyone else thanks to his awareness that every year the competiton keeps getting stronger and the need to stay ahead is all important.
Advani attributes his success to his fitness and a deep desire to win. In an interview he said ``every time I participate in a world championship one thing is clear. My motivation to excel has not diminished. My hunger for success and the fire to win are both well and truly alive. You always want to keep winning. It is always special when you hear your national anthem being played.’’
Despite his phenomenal achievements he is modesty personified. Well behaved, soft spoken and unassuming by nature Advani is short and slightly built but when it comes to his sport he is a big man with a big heart. He just never gives up and very often he has come back from the brink to emerge triumphant.
Advani’s feats are legendary. For a start in English billiards he has held the World, Asian and Indian National championship titles simultaneously in five different years – 2005, 2008, 2012, 2017 and 2019. He is currently the only player ever to win world titles in both the long and short formats of snooker (15-red standard and 6-red) and both formats of English billiards (time and point). He is also India’s first world champion in 6-red snooker. He is the first player in the world to win the trio of the WPBSA world billiards champion pro title (which he has held twice in 2009 and 2012) and the IBSF world billiard champion amateur title as well as the IBSC world snooker champion amateur title. In 2014 he helped India win the first ever world team billiards championship held in Glasgow along with Ashok Shandiliya, Rupesh Shah and Devendra Joshi. He is the only Indian to have won the amateur world title in both snooker and billiards.
And yet even this lengthy list does not present the full picture of his achievements for which he has deservedly received recognition from the Indian government which has presented him with the Arjuna award in 2004, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2006, the Padma Shri in 2009 and the Padma Bhushan in 2018. More achievements and awards are surely in store for Advani who shows no signs of relinquishing his hold on the various world titles.
ADVANI'S WORLD CROWNS
Billiards time format: 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2018.
Billiards points format: 2005, 2008, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019.
Team billiards: 2014
Snooker: 2003, 2015, 2017.
Six red snooker: 2014, 2015.
Team snooker: 2018