‘Fabulous Nationals’

Pankaj Advani is proficient in both billiards and snooker. But the champion admits it isn’t easy to be successful in both. “The preparations and techniques involved in billiards and snooker vary so much,” he says in a chat with V. V. Subrahmanyam.

‘It is a nice feeling when people come and ask you, ‘You are Pankaj, no?’ and then seek autographs.

H. SATISH

Although he has won the world title in billiards and snooker and clinched a ‘double’ in the 2007 National Championships in Hyderabad, Pankaj Advani is hungry for more. “There is so much to achieve. More than winning these titles, it is important to be a good ambassador for the sport,” he says in an exclusive chat with Sportstar after winning the senior billiards and snooker titles.

His next big goal: “The Asian snooker title is one which I have not won so far and I am really longing to win it at the earliest.”

The role of his coach Arvind Savur: “The role of my coach pertains to my mental preparedness rather than anything specific about the game and technique. That he had taught me in my formative years very well.”

On playing both snooker and billiards: “It is never easy to be successful both in snooker and billiards as the average fan might be tempted to think. The preparations and techniques involved in billiards and snooker vary so much. I consider myself fortunate that I have been successful in both and also feel proud sometimes about the results.”

His best moment: “The World snooker title in 2003. I won that when I was a nobody, and when no one expected me to win it.”

Players he admires: “Mike Russell in billiards and Yasin Merchant in snooker for their exceptional abilities.”

On his popularity: “It is a nice feeling when people come and ask you, ‘You are Pankaj, no?’ and then seek autographs. If we perform well, we (cueists) will definitely get the media attention that is due to us.”

What he expects from the Government: “The ideal situation will be a coordinated effort by all concerned — the players, the BSFI and the Government — to lure the corporates to the sport. Things are certainly looking good now, no doubt about that.”

On his memorable double in Hyderabad: “This I dedicate to my family members and the coach Arvind Savur.

By all means, this has been a fabulous Nationals for me. Maintaining consistency over 17 days was highly satisfying.”