Cue sports medallists feted

Cue sports medallists feted

The Billiards and Snooker Federation of India on Sunday felicitated India’s Asiad medallists with cash prizes and mementos.

“It’s the first time BSFI is felicitating Asiad winners,” Pankaj Advani, who won India’s first gold medal of the 2010 Gams after successfully retaining his billiards title, said at the Karnataka State Billiards Association. “Probably, the BSFI needs to keep organising such functions regularly which would make us win more medals!”

While Advani’s speech did send the audience and the BSFI officials into laughter, veteran Yasin Merchant drew maximum applause after dedicating his Team snooker silver won alongside Aditya Mehta and Brijesh Damani to the KSBA. “Normally, most athletes dedicate their wins to somebody. It is a trend followed by many these days.

“In my long career, I haven't dedicated a single award to anyone. But for the first time, I dedicate this medal to the KSBA. I’ve been part of many camps but the latest one was something special. It was very clinical, very methodical and meant serious business. The facilities here are world class. We’ve caused great inconvenience to the members in stealing their tables, but I am sure they’ll be happy now after seeing our success!” added Merchant.

Merchant, who will be leaving along with Advani for the IBSF World Snooker Championship on December 2, also lavished special praise on Alok Kumar for winning a bronze in 8-ball pool singles.

“My father would always say ‘Be the first, best and different in whatever you do’. Pankaj won India’s first gold, the snooker team did their best to win a silver while Alok has done something different in winning a medal in pool.

“Alok’s performance has been a revelation. I watched every match of his and I can proudly say he put his heart and soul into it.  Pankaj’s gold is huge but I wish to say Alok’s bronze is an equally good accomplishment, if not bigger,” added Merchant, driving Alok to tears.

While Advani was awarded Rs one lakh, Merchant, Damani and Alok got cheques for Rs 25,000 each. Mehta was awarded Rs 50,000 for winning snooker singles bronze as well. On its part, the KSBA honoured Advani with a cash prize of Rs 50,000.

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