Pankaj Advani, a world-renowned billiards player, would fall short if he is not termed as the Pride of India. In a major country like India, where cricket is the only game with a huge fan following, he has brought in a major change in outlook for games like billiards and snooker.
His Early Years and Education
Pankaj Advani was born in Pune in 1985. He had spent his earlier years in Kuwait and returned to India when Kuwait was invaded by forces in Iraq. His father passed away when he was six and he was raised by his mother and elder brother Shree.
He completed his schooling at the Frank Anthony Public School in Bangalore, and completed his B.Com from Mahaveer Jain College, Bangalore. His passion for billiards and snooker was realised when he first visited the snooker parlour with his elder brother. He proved himself by playing better than the other boys present there and hence was given a fee waiver to play in the Karnataka Snooker and Billiards Association.
His Significant Achievements
Pankaj started accumulating titles from the age of 12 when he won the tournament conducted by the B.S. Sampath Memorial Group. At 12, he triumphed in billiards championship held in memory of T.A. Selvaraj and the Karnataka State Junior Snooker Championship. In 1998, he once again won the State Junior Title.
In 1999, he captured both the Pot Shot Non–Medallist Championship and the All India Triangular Championship. The Indian Junior Billiards Championship was his in the year 2000 when he was just 15 years old. For the next seven consecutive years, he held on to the Junior Championship. He also won the Indian Snooker Championship for four consecutive years from 2003.
The year 2003 proved to be a turning point in his life as he won his first international award from the International Billiards and Snooker Federation (IBSF) during the event of World Snooker Championship held at China. He later on won the Senior National Billiards Championship in 2003 and the Senior National Snooker Championship in 2005.
In the year 2004, he won the Red Bull Team Snooker Championship again at China. In 2005, Pankaj burst into the Asian and Global stage, first winning the Asian Snooker Championship held in India and then winning the Double World Billiards Championship title held in Malta.
During the Doha Asian Games 2006, he won the Gold Medal in English Billiards, during the singles, making India proud in a global level. Pankaj Advani’s specialty is that every award that he wins will not be his only once, but definitely twice or thrice for sure, and most importantly both for billiards and for snooker.
Pankaj also pocketed the IBSF World Billiards Championship (Time) held in Singapore in 2007 and the Asian Billiards Championship held in Myanmar in 2008. He was the first Indian to win the Australian Open Billiards Championship.
For his consistent and commendable efforts in bringing laurels in India, He was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2004. He followed it up in 2006 with the Rajiv Khel Ratna, which is the highest award a sportsman in India can aspire for, among many others. Knowing Pankaj, he is sure to bring in many more laurels to the country for the rest of his life too.