‘The rewards are meagre'

Chitra Magimairaj… aiming for greater glory.-G. KRISHNASWAMY

By winning the National snooker title in Pune recently, Chitra Magimairaj, the World Ladies billiards champion in 2006 and 2007, fulfilled one of her dreams. She has now set her sights on winning the World snooker and National billiards titles. “I hope to win them at the earliest, God willing,” she says. Over to Avinash Nair.

“The wait has finally ended; a dream has been fulfilled,” said Chitra Magimairaj, the new women's snooker champion. “Now it's the National billiards and the World snooker titles that are missing from my cupboard, and I'm working towards that goal,” she added.

A former State cricketer and hockey player, Chitra gave up outdoor sports after she suffered a bad injury. That truly turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Chitra.

The two-time World Ladies Billiards champion (2006 & 2007) and runner-up in the 2009 & 2010 editions, Chitra has also won the National 8-ball pool (2006) and the National 9-ball pool (2007) titles. But the National snooker and billiards titles eluded the 38-year-old player, who spends two to six hours every day at the KSBA (Karnataka State Billiards Association), honing her skills.

“It was Rajmohan Sir (from Chennai) who moulded me. He drilled in the basics and laid the foundation for what I am today. But time and the coach have moved on. Today it's a different coach and an altogether different Chitra,” she gushed.

“After the Chennai Nationals last year, everything I did at the table has changed — my approach, my stance and my self-belief too. I work on certain patterns during the mornings and spend my afternoons and evenings playing against some prominent men players to improve myself,” Chitra said.

The results soon became evident. “In September 2011, I won the inaugural 6-Red Snooker at the Chandigarh Nationals and now this — the original snooker. And with it a long wait (11 years) is over,” said Chitra, who won the National snooker title in Pune recently.

Soon after her success at the World Billiards Championship, Chitra was sponsored by the Tata Group. “But that has stopped now,” she said. “Now I travel with my savings and with support from my parents, brother and of course the KSBA, which has been staunchly behind me,” she added.

Chitra has been a regular at the World Snooker Championship since 2003, the year Pankaj Advani won the IBSF World snooker in China. “The exposure has been an eye-opener despite the fact that I was not able to progress beyond the round of eight. The two World billiards crowns and the Australian Open snooker championship title in 2008 have been my crowning glory,” said Chitra, who had won Karnataka's Ekalavya Award in 2007.

In 2007, she also won the Mysore Dasara Award and the Kempe Gowda Award.

“There is no career in this sport; it cannot earn you your livelihood, but then if the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB), which is doing so much for the men players, can promote women players too it would be a boon,” said Chitra.

“Till 2003 there were not many tournaments, but thereafter quite a few events came up and there has been an overall development of the game the world over, even for the ladies. But the rewards are meagre, all the more for women,” she added.

Chitra is gunning for greater glory. She said: “My dream to don the India colours came true when I made the pool team for the Doha Asian Games (2006) and the snooker team for the Guangzhou Asian Games (2010). They are definitely the defining moments of my career. A World snooker title and a National billiards title are what I need now. And I hope to win them at the earliest, God willing.”