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Pankaj Arjan Advani (born 24 July 1985 in Pune) is an Indian professional player of English billiards and former professional snooker player. In recognition of his achievements, the Government of India has bestowed several awards upon Advani—Arjuna Award in 2004, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2006, and Padma Shri in 2009. He has achieved a hat-trick of hat-tricks in English billiards, holding the World, Asian, and Indian National Championship titles simultaneously, in three different years: 2005, 2008 and 2012. He became a snooker professional only in 2012, and his first season on the main tour was the 2012/2013 season. Advani won the 2014 IBSF World 6-Red Snooker Championship, on his debut in that discipline. He is the only player ever to win professional world titles in both the long and short formats of snooker (15-red standard, and 6-red) and both formats of English billiards (time and point). Advani is also India’s first world champion in 6-red snooker. On August 14, 2014, Advani helped win the first ever World Team Billiards Championship held in Glasgow, Scotland, along with Rupesh Shan, Devendra Joshi and Ashok Shandilya. This takes Advani’s world title tally to 10, making him the only Indian to win as many in any sport.

Pankaj and Shree studied at the Frank Anthony Public School, Bangalore and both went on to become Head Boys of the school. Pankaj was too soft-hearted to report students to the principal when they, for instance, forgot to wear their house-badges. Instead, he would give them money to quickly buy the badges from the school shop. He was not around during the Annual Day or Sports Day as he was busy competing at the 2002 Asian Games in Korea. However, he scored a cool distinction in both ICSE and ISC board exams.

But how did Pankaj begin his foray into the world of cue sport? He did it at the age of ten, courtesy his brother Shree. He would accompany Shree to the snooker parlour close to their house every day after school. For a few weeks, he just watched Shree play with his friends. Then one day he begged to be allowed to play. On his very first attempt, he pocketed the red ball and then on, he was hooked to the game. The following year, he won his first State title by beating his brother-cum-mentor in the finals.

During his first media interaction ever, Pankaj, on being asked what he wanted to become when he grew up, replied, “A businessman.” Then, as an afterthought, added, “I would also like to be a world champion.” Innocent words that became reality in less than 8 years

Such are the ways of the Power of Attraction that world-renowned Snooker wizard Arvind Savur spotted this talent at a young age and took him under his wing. Blessed with passion, natural ability and dedication for the sport, Pankaj sent out a warning signal to all Indian and International players of his arrival on the scene. Mr. Savur, the father of modern snooker, promised the family that he would make Pankaj a world champion, but he too was pleasantly surprised by what was to come. Pankaj went on to complete his Bachelor Degree in Commerce with a 1st Class at SBM Jain College, Bangalore. He was only 6 months into college when he won the Men’s World Snooker Championship in China at the age of 18. This was the first of his 15 World Titles.