Nothing less than a medal for Advani, Aditya in World Games
Competition would be tough when Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta head to Colombia for the World Games in the coming week but the two Indian torch-bearers on the green baize say they are up for the challenge and would settle for nothing less than a medal.
"World Games is a great event to be a part of and I look forward to it. I expect as much as I do from any other championship -- by simply giving my best and win it. It's a field of 16 players and on a given day anybody can come out in flying colours," Advani told PTI from Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Mehta, on his part, said, "It will be interesting to see what happens in World Games. The goal is always to win it. Looking at the draw, a medal would be a great result. The competition looks tough with around 10 pros in the 16-man draw. It's hard to pick a favourite. It's my first time in South America."
The World Games will take place in the city of Cali, Colombia from July 25 to August 4. The international multi-sport event is meant for sports, or disciplines or events within a sport, that are not contested in the Olympic Games.
The World Games are organised and governed by the International World Games Association (IWGA), under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
This year will see the participation of 31 official sports and five invitational sports.
Both Advani and Mehta want to carry on their experience of competing on the professional circuit to the quadrennial event.
Talking about the second season of the demanding pro circuit, the two cueists said they face the daunting task of staying in the Top-64 to avoid getting dropped for the next season as for the first time, every player will participate in the first round including the top-64 as per the rule change by the World Snooker Association.
Mehta is currently positioned at 74 on the circuit while Advani not too far at 75.
"The level is rising every year making it more cut-throat and challenging. But that's exactly what I need to keep going. It (the rule change) can be looked at in two ways -- you get to play with the best early on and more frequently.
"Otherwise you'd have to first make it through tough qualifying rounds to the main venue to meet them. On the other hand, qualifying becomes more challenging, no doubt," he added.
Mehta conceded the rule change will test his abilities but sounded optimistic about making the cut for the next season.
"I believe I'm good enough to make the cut and I guess time will tell. It does depend a lot on what kind of draws you get initially. And it makes that top 64 place that much more important.
"But I feel the opportunity to play the top players so often will have it's benefit in the long run. I relish this opportunity and I had a great first match against Ding Junhui, narrowly losing out 5-4. So I know I'm capable," he said.
India will host the 300,000 pound Indian Open World Ranking Snooker tournament in October for the first time and both the cueists seemed expectedly excited.
"It's an exciting news for Indian snooker. We now are on the global map of pro snooker. We have dominated professional billiards for a while now and it's time snooker and its top players come here too. It's a step in the right direction for the growth of snooker," said Advani.
Mehta said, "It's been a dream since I first turned pro. We've been trying for a few years now so it's amazing that its finally happened. Lot of credit due to the Federation for the hard work. It will be a cracker. This is a major step to producing future talent in the country."