Dreaming of what we want to be when we grow up is something all of us have done. For most of us, it would be multiple professions at the same time. But to grow up determined and focused on one profession and to take it up seriously is admirable. Introduced to the game at the age of 10 by his elder brother and winning his first ever title at 12, Pankaj Advani, the 21-time World Billiards and Snooker Champion has become synonymous with snooker and billiards and making winning a habit.
A student of Frank Anthony Public School, Bangalore, Pankaj Advani completed his bachelor's degree in Commerce from Jain (Deemed-to-be University) to which he owes his success. On his association with Jain (Deemed-to-be University), Pankaj shared, “When I joined the college, I was worried how I would manage time for snooker and billiards tournaments along with academics. But the University understood my passion for sports and supported me through my education. Its policy of maintaining a balance between academics and sports is commendable. I have always been grateful to the Institute for my achievements.”
Spotting the talent, passion, natural ability, and dedication for the sport in him, former national Snooker champion Arvind Savur took him under his wing. Advani has to his credit several records at the state and national levels. In 2000, he won his first Indian Junior Billiards Championship title and won it again in 2001 and 2003. He was the youngest National Snooker Champion to win the India Junior Snooker Championship in 2003.
He became a snooker professional in 2012. Advani won the 2014 IBSF World 6-Red Snooker Championship, on his debut in that discipline. The only player to win the world titles in both formats of snooker (long and short formats) as well as billiards (time and point formats), he holds the World, Asian, and Indian National Championship titles simultaneously.
The world champion cueist’s list of achievements is endless. Here’s a look at some of them:
Besides these, he was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2006, becoming the youngest Indian to receive it; the Padma Shri and the Arjuna Awards; Ekalavya Award in 2007; Karnataka's Kempegowda Award in 2007; Rajyotsava Award, Karnataka's highest civilian award, 2007; and the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honor, 2018; Vision of India's International Indian Award in 2005; Senior Sportsperson of the Year 2005; the Sports Writers' Association of Bangalore; the Bangalore University Sportsperson of the Year, 2005; the Hero India Sports Award (HISA) in 2004; the Rajiv Gandhi Award in 2004; the Arjuna Award in 2004; the Indo-American Young Achiever's Award, 2003; and the Sports Star Sportsperson of the Year 2003.