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Meditation and Communication Cut-off: Secrets behind ace cueist Pankaj Advani’s success

Meditation and Communication Cut-off: Secrets behind ace cueist Pankaj Advani's success

New Delhi, July 1 (SocialNews.XYZ) As the ace Indian cueist Pankaj Advani is gearing up to achieve a hat-trick of Asian Billiards titles, he revealed his secret for sustained success for nearly two decades. He said the game itself takes him to another world and to maintain focus during matches, he cuts off communication with everybody ensuring an uncluttered mind.

The 2024 Asian Billiards Championships starts on Tuesday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The tournament is set to showcase top-tier talent from across Asia, including India’s own billiards maestros -- nine-time champion Advani along with Sourav Kothari, and Dhruv Sitwala.


The 38-year-old cueist has won the Asian Billiards title in 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2017, 2018, 2022, and 2023. He has also clinched Asian Snooker titles in 2016, 2019, and 2021, along with an Asian Team Snooker title in 2017.

Ahead of kickstarting his campaign in Riyadh, Advani, who is eyeing his tenth Asian Billiards title, talks about his journey, cue sports' entry into the Olympics, his first World title, and more with IANS. Excerpts:

IANS: You are going to play in the Asian Snooker Championship. A win would be overall 10th and third in a row. How confident are you of winning this?

Pankaj: It's going to be very quick. You have to start from the word go. It's not like the traditional format of billiards where you have ample time to get used to the tables and used to the conditions. And even if you make a few mistakes and start slowly, you can recover later. So, it is one of the trickiest tournaments. Having said that, of course, you know, I've done pretty well over the years, over the last two decades. And, overall I have won nine Asian Billiards titles. So, I'm going for my tenth and a hat-trick of them, if I do make it this time.

But I'm not thinking too far ahead because I know there are a lot of good players from India and Thailand and Myanmar and Singapore who are going to be very, very formidable opponents.

IANS: How do you see the competition with other Indians in the tournament?

Pankaj: Yeah, it's something. India is a very strong billiards-playing nation. And if you look at the record over the last four or five decades, in fact, independent India's first World title in any sport came in billiards through Wilson Jones. So, you know, he started the whole tradition of winning for our country in any sport. Since then, billiards has always been one of the strongest sports for India in terms of achieving Asian titles, World titles, Asian Games medals, and whatnot.

So, of course, given the current scenario and the players, they're all very talented. Some of us have played for a longer time, you know, over two decades. Some of them have just started playing over the last eight to ten years. And in this format, you really need people who are fearless. So, the youngsters obviously have a good chance to topple any of the top seeds in this event because it's a hit-and-run format. And, it all depends on that day. If you start well, if you're a bit lucky things go your way. And when you strike at the right time, then you end up winning.

IANS: Coming back to your feats, you have been inducted into the Billiards Hall of Fame. So, how do you see that achievement of yours?

Pankaj: Yeah, personally, I consider it a huge honour because this is the first World Billiards Museum that has been built in the entire world and China has taken that initiative. So, I'd like to congratulate the Chinese Association and all the people who made this possible to acknowledge the achievements of various champions across the globe from different versions of Cue sports, whether it's Snooker, English billiards, Carrom pool because there are so many versions of Cue Sports, which are played on different tables and have different competitions worldwide and their own circuits and series of tournaments. So, it's a huge honour.

I'm really glad that they chose to honour me and induct me into the Hall of Fame. And I think it's great for our sport, for our country. I just hope that there are more of us in the future who can be inducted into that Hall of Fame. And then there are more such museums built around the world so that we are aware of the great sport of ours, which has continued to entertain followers for years and decades.

IANS: Cue sports is a game of focus. So, how do you train yourself? Any specific routine that the cue sports players follow before coming to major tournaments?

Pankaj: Yeah. So, the thing that I do is I sort of cut off communication with practically everybody when I'm traveling abroad, especially for international competitions, even national competitions, but even more international because you're far away, different time zones. And I really don't want to know what's happening in India or the news or whatever else it is. So, that helps because when you have an uncluttered mind, when you don't have too much in your head, you're able to just focus on what you're going there for.

Even my family members friends and all that, they all understand that I'm not going to be communicating much and not available on my phone. But besides that, you know, I do a little bit of meditation as well. And the game itself, I think, transports me to another world.

So, the moment I get to the table, I forget everything else about my life and everything. So, it's wonderful to play a sport like this, which is where you can mentally immerse yourself into it and forget about everything else in the world and enjoy it. And of course, try and win medals for the country at the same time.

IANS: The World Confederation of Billiards Sports is keen on cue sports being added to the Olympic Games and has made a bid for it. How confident are you that cue sports will one day become part of the Olympics?

Pankaj: You're talking about cue Sports being a part of the Olympics? I don't know if that's going to happen soon because of actually various reasons that we're probably not even aware of. It's got to do with the international bodies. Maybe they need to make a stronger case or a lobby. But I do know one thing, and that is cue sports, whether it's billiards, snooker, or pool, is played by millions of people across the globe, in so many countries.

People should not be fooled that it's just about taking a cue stick in your hand and potting balls into pockets. It's not that straightforward. There's a lot of physical exercise as well that one needs to do to master cue sports and to excel in it, whether it's your core, your flexibility, your stamina, endurance, and, of course, all that leading up to mental focus and concentration, which you asked me about previously.

So, I mean, I would love for cue sports to be part of the Olympics, but I don't see it happening in the near future. I don't know if it's the next edition or even the next two editions. But I will definitely say this, as a sportsperson, it's an honour to represent the country, whether it's in the Olympics, whether it's in the Asian Games. I've won two Asian Games gold medals in the past, and I know what kind of feeling and emotions you go through when the national tri-color is going up and the national anthem is being played.

But it's not that I'm only representing India at the Asian Games or even if it's in the Olympics shortly. It's about representing India in every international tournament winning as many medals and putting India on the map consistently, not just once in four years or eight years.

IANS: Coming back to your journey, you are a 27-time World Champion, Billiards & Snooker. So, of the 27 titles, which one was your best and why?

Pankaj: Well, I've said this many times. I think they say your first love is always special. Similarly, in my journey, or rather in my successful outings and victories, especially in the World Championships, I would definitely rate my first world title as the most special because of many reasons, because it was on debut. And it was before the start of the tournament that if somebody had to ask anyone if anybody had to look at the favourites and the title contenders, I wouldn't even figure on that list. I would be far away maybe odds of 300 to one or something to win the tournament.

However, I was young and I was fearless and I had a different approach back then, which worked. To top it all, I reached the final and I played against a Pakistani player and it happened to be on Diwali, October 25, 2003. So, there are many reasons why that first world title was truly special. And I think that would definitely, for me, be one of my greatest achievements even to date.

IANS: Okay, so overall, how do you look back at your journey?

Pankaj: Most of the cueists that have emerged from our country or even worldwide, I have always felt that one can only specialise in either billiards or snooker. But, I always felt that looking back at my journey, I think the greatest satisfaction or sense of fulfillment that I have is the fact that I was able to defy those odds and redefine the concept of specialisation, you know, by playing both billiards and snooker and excelling in both equally. And I wouldn't change anything really in the last 20, 25 years. I really wouldn't change anything.

Yes, of course, I would wish for cue sports to get more visibility and be more of an accepted sport rather than a niche sport or a sport that only people can access if they're members of clubs. I would love for that to change and I would love to do my bit for that. But those are medium to long-term plans, which. I'm sure you'll get to hear of if and when they materialise.

Source: IANS

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Meditation and Communication Cut-off: Secrets behind ace cueist Pankaj Advani's success

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