Pankaj Advani - On the right cue
Considered a game for the retired until recently, Cue sports has been quite radically transformed in the last few years. It is true that billiards and snooker did come with certain limitations that were a hindrance to popularity in our country. Women's participation has been extremely limited so far and the expensive equipment used in the sport and the money needed to maintain has rendered it a recreation for the elite in pubs, discos and clubs. India's presence on the World scene was noted for the first time when Wilson Jones won his first world title in 1958, 50 years ago. International recognition came with victories at world level by Michael Ferreira, O.B. Agarwal, Manoj Kothari and Geet Sethi. Pankaj Advani happens to be the newest star on the rise with many of India's total of world titles already to his credit. He is also the only Indian and the only Asian to win world titles in both billiards and snooker.
After winning the IBSF World Billiards Championship in 2005 at Qawra, Malta, he became only the second cueist after Malta's Paul Mifsud to have won both the billiards and snooker world titles. He has been coached by Arvind Savur for almost a decade at Bangalore. Advani, who is the only player to have achieved a "grand double" of winning both the points and timed formats at the IBSF World Billiards Championships 2005, has repeated the same feat at the 2008 Championships held in Bangalore as well.
Pankaj Advani spent the first five years of his life in Kuwait before settling down in Bangalore. He held the cue for the first time when he was only ten and there has been no looking back after he pocketed the first ball. Pankaj enrolled for a Coaching Camp at KSBA (Karnataka State Billiards association) a few months later where Mr. S. Jairaj taught him the basics of snooker. It must be added here that the KSBA has had a lot of positive influence in both Pankaj's life and career. Thereafter he broke records at the State and National Ranking Tournaments at the junior and senior levels. He became the youngest Senior National Champion at the age of 17 (in snooker) breaking Geet Sethi's record (20 yrs).
Major Titles Won in recent times
2009 - World Professional Billiards Championship
2008 - IBSF World Billiards Championship (both formats - timed and points)
2006 - Asian Games Gold Medallist - English Billiards singles
IBSF World Billiards Championship (both formats - timed and points)
Asian Billiards Championship
India Billiards Championship
India Junior Snooker Championship
India Junior Billiards Championship
WSA Challenge Tour
2004 - WSA Challenge Tour
IBSF World Snooker Championship
Indian Junior Billiards Championship
Indian Junior Snooker Championship
Awards and Honours
Padma Shri, 2009
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, India's highest sporting honour, 2005-06
Rajyotsava Award, Karnataka's highest civilian award, 2007
Vision of India's "International Indian" Award in 2005.
Senior Sportsperson of the Year 2005
The Bangalore University ' Sportsperson of the Year, 2005
The Hero India Sports Award (HISA) in 2004
The Rajeev Gandhi Award in 2004
The Arjuna Award in 2004
The Indo-American Young Achiever's Award - 2003
The Sports Star Sportsperson of the Year 2003.
Latest Update - India hosts the IBSF World Snooker Championship in Hyderabad from Nov 15-25. Pankaj Advani and an ex-Asian champion Yasin Merchant are included in the fourteen-member squad.
Joyjit Singha Roy