There is no doubt that Cricket continues to flow in the veins of the majority of Indians with the likes of MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma emerging as youth icons. There has been a persistent focus on various other sports which have led to Badminton, Kabaddi, Football and Wrestling gaining traction in India. The accomplishments of Mary Kom and Hima Das in Boxing and Athletics respectively bode well for India keeping in mind the upcoming Olympics in 2020. However, the achievements of Pankaj Advani have slipped under the radar as the ace cueist continues to make the country proud with his superhuman achievements.
Pankaj Advani recently registered his 22nd world title as he won a fourth straight final in the 150-up format at the IBSF World Billiards Championship in Myanmar.
Pankaj Advani was born on 24th July 1985 and tragically lost his father, Arjun Advani at an early stage. After moving to Bangalore from Kuwait, Advani was guided under the tutelage of Arvind Savur. At the age of 19, he created history by winning the junior snooker championship three times. Advani has brought home a world trophy every year ever since returning from a professional stint in the UK in 2014. He has proven to be the most consistent Indian athlete, prevailing in the World Championships since 2003.
In 2003 he won the ‘India Junior Snooker Championship’ which made him the youngest National Snooker champion. In the same year, he won the 2003 IBSF World Snooker Championship title in China. In 2005, he won the IBSF World Billiards Championship, thus, becoming the second cueist after Paul Mifsud of Malta to win both the billiards and snooker amateur world titles and by defeating Devendra Joshi in the Points format and seven-time world champion Geet Sethi in the longer format of the 2005 IBSF World Billiards Championship, he became the first player to win in both the formats.
His persistence has certainly paid off as he has won more titles in cue sports than anyone else in the world, thus making him the greatest cueist of all time. While Roger Federer is synonymous with Tennis and is considered the greatest tennis player ever with his 20 grand slams, Advani with two titles more than Federer is synonymous with cue sports and is a matter of great pride for Indians.
Advani belongs to one of the rare breeds who can ace both billiards and snooker with finesse. Pankaj might not have age on his side but has managed to adapt his game to even the shorter formats in billiards and has dominated the 150-up format at the IBSF World Billiards Championship. He has cliched the 150-up format record five times in six years and is currently holding the title with four successive victories.
He has also started his cue school and is India’s first chain of cue sports academies and DPS Sarjapur is already up and running. In October 2018, Advani became the first Indian to win an Asian Snooker Tour event as he defeated China’s Ju Reti in the final with a 6-1 scoreline.
He has been bestowed with many honours as right from a young age as he received the Arjuna and Rajiv Gandhi Award in 2004 itself. He was honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 2006 which was followed by the prestigious Padma Shri Award in 2009. Last year, Advani received the honour of Padma Bhushan – the third-highest civilian award in India.
Despite winning every major event that is up for grabs in cue sports, his hunger and passion remain the same when he started in 2003. Advani has emerged as the perfect role model for the youth with his persistence and dedication making him the greatest cueist of all time.