'Perfect icing on the cake'

Cue sports: World champions Advani, Rupesh felicitated by national federation

Newly crowned World Billiards (time format) champion Pankaj Advani said on Sunday that his victory was a perfect icing on the cake following Rupesh Shah’s heroics in the points format.

“It just cannot get better than this. With Rupesh having won the points format title and me winning the time format -- India completing a clean sweep -- it just can’t get better than this,” said Advani during a felicitation function organised by the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI) for him and Rupesh at the KSBA hall here on Sunday.

“We’ve won almost all the international cue sports titles in the last couple of years -- the Asian Billiards Championship (Advani), Asian Snooker Championship (Aditya Mehta), Asian Games billiards gold, World Ladies Billiards Championship (R Umaevi Nagaraj). We’ve also got two players on the professional snooker circuit -- Aditya and myself. It’s just fantastic news for Indian cue sport. It also shows the work BSFI has been consistently putting in over the years that has seen cueists taste so much of international fame.

“Also, I would like to thank my family for their continued support and standing behind me in every decision that I’ve made. As you know, I decided to skip the International Snooker Championship to compete in the World Billiards for which I drew a lot of flak. Now having won the billiards crown, my decision stands vindicated but even if I’d lost I would have still felt happy with my decision,” added the eight-time world champion.

Rupesh, who became the fifth Indian cueist to have won at least two world titles, said the victory felt more special since he had notched up a memorable win over the legendary Mike Russell. “It’s a very special title for me. It’s special because of the wins I scored over legends like Mike Russell and Peter Gilchrist and Matthew Bolton in the final. It’s not easy to beat all of them in a single tournament.”

Rupesh also credited veteran Geet Sethi for helping him end his five-year title drought. “Geet has been a big influence in my life. He has supported me right throughout my career. My mind always keep fluctuating and during those moments Geet helps me stay focused. He always tells me that whenever you get a chance at the table, don’t leave it and sustain your stay as long as possible.”

Advani and Rupesh were presented with a cheque of Rs one lakh each by the BSFI. KSBA awarded an additional Rs 50,000 for Advani.

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