Dream comes true for Alok Kumar

Alok Kumar...savouring success.-R. RAGU

After spending 25 years at the cue table, the 43-year-old Alok Kumar is still hungry for success. He has been practising eight hard hours a day for ages and still relishes every win like a success-hungry newcomer. His win at the Asian billiards championship is a reward for all those years of hard work. Over to Y. B. Sarangi.

“I hate to lose, whatever be the game and whatever be the tournament,” says Alok Kumar, the newly-crowned Asian billiards champion.

After spending 25 years at the cue table, the 43-year-old is still hungry for success. He has been practising eight hard hours a day for ages and still relishes every win like a success-hungry newcomer.

Alok agrees that it is natural for anyone to give up after doing the same thing over and over again for so many years. “My will to win has kept me motivated. It does not matter what is the format, who is the opponent and how does it look (when I play),” says a spirited Alok. “I just want to win.”

Thus, the old practitioners of the trade who know Alok closely salute his spirit. “I have got some rare compliments from the likes of Michael Ferreira and Geet Sethi,” he fondly remembers. “Geet was there in Iran. After I defeated Pankaj, he had predicted that I would win the title.”

Alok sates his quarterfinal victory against Advani in the Asian championship at Kish Island in Iran as one of the best games he has ever played. “Pankaj had been winning it for the last three years. So, it was a special experience to beat him (4-3),” he adds.

The Sangrur-based cueist got past Peter Gilchrist of Singapore 5-2 in the semifinals and Praput Chaithanasukan of Thailand 6-0 in the final to become the first player ever to win the Asian titles in billiards and snooker (in 2004).

“The biggest satisfaction was that I defeated three former world champions on my way to win the championship. I really played well in the semifinal and final,” he says.

The results, however, do not speak of Alok's quick adaptability, from winning the 8-ball and 9-ball pool nationals a week back to clinching the Asian title in a completely different format. “I have been doing it for the last three to four years even though it is not very easy,” says the soft-spoken senior pro.

In the hour of glory, Alok owes it to his family members who have been a source of great support for him. “My 82-year-old father was delighted. He had backed me greatly in my early days. My wife and children have been very cooperative as well,” Alok says. “Spending 250 days a year for a game which does not pay you much is a tough task. I would not have been able to do it without their support.”

Alok is happy that his win has inspired his sparring partner and his 14-year-old son Vandit, a sub-junior player at the national level. “Now he understands the meaning of winning,” says the ace cueist.

The Asian crown has given wings to Alok's long time dream of claiming the world championship. “Of course, that is going to be my next target in life,” he adds with an air of confidence.

Ask the Asian champion about the next generation of cueists, he sounds a bit pessimistic. “The present generation wants to achieve everything quickly. There are some talented players and they have the internet and the best of coaching. But they lack in the effort and hard work which is so essential for any kind of success at the top level,” Alok concludes.