Pankaj Advani became the youngest Indian sportsperson to win eight world titles while Aditya Mehta was conferred with the prestigious Arjuna Award as Indian cueists rounded off a successful year with quite a few titles coming their way at the international level.
Advani, the 'smiling assassin' of Indian cuesport, hogged the limelight when he claimed his seventh World Billiards Championship title after defeating defending champion and seasoned Englishman Mike Russell in the Time format final.
His other world title had come in the IBSF World Snooker Championship back in 2003.
The win was all the more special for the 27-year-old cueist as he had made the tough choice of picking the World Billiards Championship over International Snooker Championships due to a clash in the dates of the two tournaments.
Advani became the first Indian to have qualified for the world's richest pro-snooker tournament -- International Championships -- which was held in October this year in China but missed out on the tournament due to the World Billiards.
“I took a tough decision earlier this year to play both Billiards and Snooker at the highest level, and I am glad that I have been able to maintain top form in both the forms.
“This victory like every other shall be treasured yet has its own special meaning given the unique challenges I have faced this year. This win is a testament that if you follow your heart, nothing's impossible,” Advani said.
Advani said his World Billiards 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, I waited for three years. To be able to keep your motivation level high, to win against a great player like Mike, it's a huge thing for me and I'll cherish the moment,” he said.
Advani also 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.
Advani, the only player in the world to win a Professional World Title in Billiards while participating in the Professional Snooker Circuit in the same year, had earlier successfully retained his national billiards title with an impressive 5-0 win over Bhalchandra Bhaskar in January.
The quiet yet hungry teenager from Bangalore also went on to win the 11th English Billiards title in the Asian Championship in April when he