Pankaj Advani, the reigning National Billiards and Snooker Champion, create history again in 2010 by becoming the only cueist to win a hat- trick of Asian Billiards titles after defeating Singapore’s Peter Gilchrist in a mil-biting final encounter. He outclassed Gilchrist 6-5 in the best- of-11 ;crunch game to become the youngest Asian to win four Asian billiards titles. Advani is the winner of three world titles in billiards and snooker.
In 2005, he became the first player to complete a grand double by winning both the point’s format as well as the time format titles in the IBSF World Billiards championship. For this achievement, he was conferred the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. Considered to be the best Billiards player India has got after Geet Sethi, the maestro, Pankaj is the first player ever to have completed a Grand Double in Billiards.
Born on July 24, 1985, Pankaj spent his initial years in Kuwait as his parents and elder brother Shree were settled there. In June 1990, Pankaj, along with his family, was on a trip to US, Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait and the family was forced to come back to India and settled in Bangalore. Pankaj was just 6 when his father passed away, and his mother single handedly brought the two brothers up. Pankaj received his education at the Frank Anthony Public School in Bangalore. He had been a very brilliant student throughout his career and completed his B.Com from Mahaveer Jain College, Bangalore.
When Pankaj was 10 years old, he began accompanying his elder brother Shree to a Snooker Parlour and soon proved he was much better at the game than all the older boys out there. Impressed by his talent, the Managing Committee of Karnataka Snooker and Billiards Association (KSBA) gave him the Talent A Membership that made it much cheaper for him to play as much as he wanted for a monthly sum of 250 /- only. As a result, the little Pankaj would spend as much as 10 hours a day at the Club itself during his vacations, having his lunch, tea everything over there itself.
Advani won his first title at in the year 1997 at the age of 12. Afterwards, he went on breaking records after records at the State and National levels. He won the Karnataka State Junior Snooker Championship in 1997 and 1998. Further, he won the Pot Shot All India Triangular Championship and the Pot Shot Non-Medalist Championship in the year 1999. At the age of 15, Pankaj clinched the Indian Junior Billiards Championship title in 2000, repeating the feat 7 times in a row. In the year 2003, he won the Indian Snooker Championship and won the title for 4 years in a row.
In 2003, Pankaj became the youngest Indian ever to win the Senior National Billiards Championship. In 2005, he became the youngest Indian player to win the Senior National Snooker Championship at the age of 19.
Pankaj made his debut at the International level when he finished as a finalist at the Asian Billiards Championship 2002, held at Bangalore. He won the International Billiards and Snooker Federation (IBSF) World Snooker Championship 2003 in China at the age of 18 years. However, the year 2005 proved to be extremely lucky for Pankaj. First, he won the Asian Snooker Championship title in India. After this, he won the Double World Billiards titles (Both Points and Time Format) in the World Billiards Championship held at Malta.
He also created a world record of being the first person ever to have won both the World Billiards titles in the same year. Also, he became the first Indian ever to have claimed five Billiard titles Junior National, Senior National, Asian Championship, World Championship (Points) and World Championship (Time) in the same year.
Further, Pankaj made the country proud by winning the Gold Medal in the Singles Event of English Billiards at Doha Asian Games 2006. Pankaj again claimed the IBSF World Billiards Championship (Time) 2007 held at Singapore, and once again won the Asian Billiards Championship 2008 held at Myanmar. He has been the only person to have won the Asian Billiards title for 3 times. In June 2008, he became the first Indian Billiards player to win the Australian Open Billiards Championship, and went on to win the First 6 Red Snooker Pentangular Team Championship 2008 held at Pakistan. He again won the IBSF World Billiards Championship 2008 held at Bangalore.
For his commendable performance as a Billiards and Snooker player, and his invaluable contribution made to the nation through the laurels he brought home through his consistent and skillful efforts, Pankaj Advani has won a host of awards from various Government and Non- Government bodies. These include the prestigious Arjuna Award in 2004, the Hero India Sports Award in 2004, Vision of India’s International Indian Award in 2005, Rajiv Khel Ratna Award in 2006 (the highest award conferred upon a sportsperson in India), Karnataka’s Kempegowda Award in 2007, and Karnataka Government’s Highest Award, the Rajotsav Award in the year 2007. He was conferred the Padma Shri in 2009.
Some of the major records are on Pankaj’s name. He is the youngest Indian and Asian to win the world professional billiards title. He is the only person in the world to win: World professional billiards title, IBSF world billiards (time format) title, IBSF world billiards (point format) title, and IBSF world snooker title. He is the only person in the world to be the reigning champion in all possible major billiards championships: World professional billiards, IBSF world billiards (time format), IBSF world billiards (point format), Asian games billiards, Asian billiards, and Indian national billiards.
He is the only one in the world to win twin titles (point and time formats) at the IBSF world billiards championships, not once but twice. He is the youngest world champion in IBSF billiards. He is the youngest Asian to win world snooker title at 18 and world billiards at 19. He has won the maximum number (six) of IBSF world titles to his name. He is the only one to have won 3 Asian billiards titles and the only person to win three world titles while still in his teens. He is probably the only sportsperson in the world to have won seven senior world titles by the age of 24.