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Top five things to know about legendary cueist Pankaj Advani

Published at :September 23, 2021 at 8:45 PM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : The Indian Express/ @PankajAdvani247/Twitter)

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The 36-year-old recently clinched his 24th world title in Doha.

When you talk about snooker or billiards, one name that instantly comes to mind is Pankaj Advani. The cueist has been one of the biggest names in Indian sports for well over a decade now. His consistent performances at the highest level have familiarized common people in the country to a less talked-about sport.

In the year 2003, at the age of just 17, Advani became the youngest player ever to become the National Snooker champion. There was no looking back from there on! 18 years later, Pankaj Advani continues to amaze everyone with his performances and is one of India's most consistent sportspersons.

Pankaj Advani has managed to win several accolades and received numerous awards for his outstanding efforts on the international stage. Here's a look at the top five things you need to know about the legend:

5. Equally proficient in billiards and snooker

The main difference between billiards and snooker is with respect to the number of balls used. In snooker, 22 balls, including the white colour striker ball, are used. The other coloured balls are 15 red, one yellow, green, blue, brown, black and pink each. Six-red snooker or Super 6s is a new shortened version of the game. On the other hand, in billiards, only three balls are used. These are white, yellow and red with the former two eligible to act as strikers. Not many players can claim to have been successful in both formats.

Pankaj Advani is a 16-time world champion in billiards and a eight-time world champion in snooker. Infact, he is the only cueist to have won the Asian and World Championships in all formats, in both billiards and snooker. Clearly, no-one in the history of the sport has been as dominant as Pankaj Advani.

4. First player ever to hold world and continental titles simultaneously

Nicknamed the "Prince of India," Pankaj Advani set a new benchmark in the year 2016. The Indian star was the reigning world champion in snooker after beating Zhao Xintong 8-6 in Hurghada, Egypt. He was aiming to now add the continental crown on top of it.

Advani went on to script history at the Asian 6-Red Snooker Championship held in Abu Dhabi. He defeated compatriot Aditya Mehta 6-1 in the semi-finals, before ousting Malaysia's Moh Keen Ho 7-5 in the summit clash. In doing so, Pankaj Advani became the first cueist ever to hold both the world and continental titles in 6-red snooker at the same time.

3. Back-to-back Asian Games gold medals

Despite all the world and continental titles, nothing beats the honour of representing the nation. Cue sports are not often a part of multi-sports international tournaments. However, on the few occasions that they have been included, Pankaj Advani made the most of it.

Cue sports were a part of the Asian Games in 2006 and 2010. Pankaj Advani competed in the men's English billiards singles category. At the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, a relatively young Advani showed his class. He beat fellow Indian Ashok Shandilya 3-1 in the final to bag the gold medal. Four years later in Guangzhou, he was once again in imperious form. Advani triumphed over Nay Thway Oo of Myanmar in the final.

Therefore, despite winning several individual honours in his career, the two gold medals he won for India will always have a special place.

2. Recipient of multiple national awards

The Government of India has duly recognized the efforts of Pankaj Advani. He was bestowed with the Arjuna Award in 2004. 10 years later, the Khel Ratna award followed.

In the year 2009, Advani received the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award in India. He also went on to receive the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award in 2018.

1. Winner of 24 world titles

Pankaj Advani has won more world titles in cue sports than anyone else, making him the greatest cueist of all-time. This week he won his 24th world title when he triumphed at the IBSF 6-Red Snooker World Cup with a victory over Pakistan's Babar Masih in the final. Advani had earlier got the better of Amir Sarkhosh of Iran in the final of the Asian Snooker Championship.

Both the tournaments took place in the Qatari capital Doha. Thus, in less than a week, Pankaj Advani added two more trophies to his glittering cabinet. It must be noted that the ace Indian cueist was competing in his first tournaments in two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After a break, the world is at his feet yet again.

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