'Age no bar for achievement'

Government honours Advani with Ekalavya award and Rs 10 lakh


Young achiever: World billiards champion Pankaj Advani being felicitated by Home Minister VS Acharya (right) as Sports Minister Goolihatti Shekar (second from right), Secretary for Sports and Youth Services IM Vittal Murthy (second from left) and KOA president K Govindaraj (left) look on in Bangalore on Tuesday. DH photo

The 24-year-old, who has won six world billiards titles and one snooker title, accepted the Ekalavya award and a cheque for Rs 10 lakh from State Home Minister V S Acharya, who did the honours in the absence of Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa.

“I’d like to thank this State government for recognising my contributions. This will give hope to a lot of other sportspersons in the country,” said Advani. “I would also like to thank my family, Arvind (Savur) uncle and the Karnataka State Billiards Association for helping me. I hope Karnataka becomes the sports capital of India soon.”

“I knew that I was going to be felicitated when the chief minister came to watch me play at the World billiards Championship in 2008. It was just a matter of time.” added Advani.
Advani had refused to accept the Ekalavya award in 2007 stating that the State was late in recognising his achievements and was being discriminatory towards his sport. He had received the Arjuna award in 2004 and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2006.

“I dont hold any grudges against the government. I had decided to accept the Ekalavya award at the time of my felicitation. It was no real surprise. With this I hope to forget all about the past and expect everyone to move on,” said the level-headed cueist.

Advani also criticised the system and said: “The perception that ‘only if you reach a certain level you can be recognised’ has to change. 

“Even a 15-year-old deserves recognition and with it will come performance. A lot of time people confuse age with acheivement. That’s a very wrong thing.”

The function at ‘Krishna’, the chief minister’s official residence, was attended Secretary for Sports and Youth Services Vittal Murthy, Minister for Youth Services and Sports Goolihatti D Shekar, Director of Department of Youth Services and Sports Shivananjaiah, Karnataka Olympic Association president K Govindaraj, KSBA members and Advani’s friends.

“I don’t need to stress on his contribution to sports and the country. But he has deserved every bit of the accolades,” said Acharya.  “We intended to felicitate him a year ago but it had to be postponed and after the world championships we decided to do it, no matter what. The State government promises to help him in his growth as a sportsman through his life.”

Advani is yet to receive the BDA site promised to him but the minister said the process to allot one was on.

“The BDA Commissioner has been alerted to look out for sites and he will be allotted a site as soon as possible,” Acharya said.

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