| Advani has been highly inspired by Geet Sethi
Bangalore: From a small pool parlour in Bangalore to the world championship arena in Jiangmen, Pankaj Advani has come a long way.
The boy who had tough times beating his brother in those household duels, is a familiar name today after overcoming Saleh Mohammed to clinch the world title.
And the 19-year old does give a lot of credit to his brother Shree for what he has achieved today. “Earlier I just used to watch him play. But once I played a few shots, I got hooked to the game,” said the shy Advani, who, at one point of time, dreamt of becoming a cricketer.
The champion also owes a lot to the principal of the Frank Anthony Public School C. Browne, who always encouraged him follow his passion.
The two-month summer training camp at Karnataka State Billiards Association (KSBA) in 1996 really became the “turning point” in his career. “My decision to cancel my annual holiday trip to Mumbai and join the camp changed my life forever,” he said.
The coach at KSBA, Jeyraj realised Advani’s talent and offered him membership of the organisation under its talent category for a nominal fee of Rs 250 per month.
From then on, there was no looking back for the youngster, who honed his skills under Arvind Savur, a player of international repute and the father of modern snooker in India.
Advani made his mark in the Asian Billiards Championship in Bangalore in 2002, finishing runner-up. The then finished third in the world junior snooker championship in Latvia the same year and represented India in the Busan Asian Games.
“In Jiangmen, I just wanted to play my heart out and do my best”, Advani added.
He attributed the success to “destiny and a power which is above you”.
“I was almost out of the tournament down 1-4 to Meizei Wen of China, when I felt a superior force guiding me. From then on, I went on to win the title.”
Mother Kajal deserves a special mention, who has been a “support system and major strength” for Pankaj, after his father passed away when he was seven.
Although Stephen Henry of Scotland is his “role model”, Advani feels he has been “highly inspired by Geet Sethi”.