6 worth-knowing facts about billiards boss Pankaj Advani
For Indians, billiards and Pankaj Advani are almost synonymous. Here is a look at the career of the champion whose achievements generally fly under the radar:
Pune to Kuwait
Advani was born in Pune, but the billiards and snooker player spent his initial years in Kuwait before moving to Bangalore.
Introduced to billiards at 10
As a mere 10-year-old, Pankaj was introduced to the sport by his elder brother Dr Shree Advani, a noted sport and performance psychologist, who took him to former National Snooker Champion Arvind Savur. Savur initially rejected coaching Advani as he deemed him to be too short but later took him under his wing. Interestingly, Pankaj won his first state title by defeating his brother, who is also his mentor.
It was not long before Pankaj had something to show for his talent. He won his first-ever title at the age of just 12 and went on to set several records in the state and national level competitions.
A sensation in the Junior Circuit
Advani emerged victorious at the Indian Junior Billiards Championship for three successive years – 2000, 2001 and 2003. In 2003, Advani scripted history by becoming the Youngest National Snooker Champion and also won the World Amateur Snooker Championship the same year.
In 2005, the player came up trumps at the IBSF World Billiards Championship, becoming the only Indian to do so.
A cabinet full of trophies
In 2009, Pankaj Advani got the better of Mike Russell to win the WPBA World Billiards Champion pro title. Pankaj Advani won the World Billiards Championship in 2012 at the age of 27 as he became the youngest player to win all the World titles in English Billiards.
Carrying on his golden run, Advani became the first player to win five Asian Billiards Championship titles in 2012. Advani boasts of 10 World Championship titles in all, including a Team Championship held in Glasgow. He also registered a hat-trick of titles by winning the World, Asian and Indian Billiards Championships simultaneously.
Excelled in academics as well
Pankaj Advani is not only a great sportsperson, but he was quite good at academics as well. He got a distinction in both ICSE and ISC board examinations despite having to manage his studies alongside participating in championships.
Awards and accolades
Advani is the only player to have clinched amateur world titles in both snooker and billiards. For his brilliant performances, he won Padma Shri in 2009, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2006 and Arjuna Award in 2004.