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It’s been a ‘long wait’ for Advani

Pankaj Advani

New Delhi: The youngest Indian sportsperson to win eight world titles, ace cueist Pankaj Advani says his recent World Billiards Championship triumph was a “special” one as he had to wait for three years to regain it.

“It’s a special win for me. It’s been a long wait for me, as I had to wait for three years. To be able to keep your motivation level high, to win against a great player like Mike (Russell), it’s a huge thing for me and I’ll cherish the moment. I still consider him the best. Now that I won it on my mom's birthday, it’s definitely a gift to her from my side and a special one,” Advani said.

“Another thing is I could complete my third hat-trick of billiards titles — as in 2005, 2008 and now in 2012, these are the three years when I won the Nationals, Asian and World Championships in the same calendar year. It’s very very special for these reasons,” he added.

Advani said that he would “cherish” his latest title as it had been a tough decision to choose the World Billiards meet over International Snooker Championships, as the two competitions coincided.

“I feel relieved and proud of my decision. Whenever I’ve had to make a choice (2006 Asian Games being another example), I've come through. It (choosing between the two tournaments) definitely was a tough decision to make, but your heart seldom lets you down. I had a great feeling about the World Billiards this time and simply followed the calling,” he elaborated.

Advani won his seventh World Billiards Championship title after defeating defending champion and seasoned Englishman Mike Russell in the time-format final. His other world title is the IBSF World Snooker Championship in 2003.

The 27-year-old Rajiv Khel Ratna Awardee said that the win over one of the legends of modern era, Russell, in the final was a fulfilling experience.

“It’s a fulfilling experience to say the least. To play Mike in the finals of the longer version requires an enormous amount of endurance and skill. In 2009, I won the title and winning it again after a long gap of three years, it’s a special victory for me. My patience and decision to play in this championship both paid off,” Advani said.

Advani turned professional in snooker this season and immediately made a mark by defeating the likes of former world number one Steve Davis and John Higgins, besides some other higher ranked players.

He will be leaving for England in a couple of days’ time to play in the snooker pro circuit there.

He also felt happy about Rupesh Shah winning the World Billiards title in the point format. “I’m so happy for him. He played like a champion. Both the Indians coming back victorious from World Championship is certainly a big result for the country. It answers a lot of criticism,” he said. (PTI)