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Updated: June 27, 2012 16:23 IST

Right on cue

Arun Venugopal
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CUP OF JOY Kamal Chawla. Photo: S. S. Kumar
The Hindu CUP OF JOY Kamal Chawla. Photo: S. S. Kumar

After his recent victory in the Kences-ASCA tournament, an exuberant Kamal Chawla chats about how he fine-tuned his skills, those who inspired him and his future aims

Barely 10 minutes have passed since Kamal Chawla's thrilling victory over Sourav Kothari in the final of the Kences Constructions-ASCA international snooker tournament. Even as Kamal is soaking in the spoils, he is surrounded by a bunch of cue sports enthusiasts seeking to be photographed with him. An elated Kamal is not complaining.

“These things are hugely motivating. Chennai is one of my favourite places as I have always done well here. I am speechless…I am very happy to have won.”

After the euphoria has subsided, we catch up with the IBSF world No. 3 for a more elaborate conversation. The first question is naturally about his good performances lately (he finished runner-up in the National snooker championship this year). “Actually my form has been pretty bad in the last three months,” he grins. “But I am practising hard and thankfully the results are improving.”

Kamal feels the training he underwent in England before the World Championship last year has helped fine-tune his technique. “I am very thankful to Shivraj Singh Chouhan saab, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, for his efforts in sending me to England. I spent about 25 days in Sheffield training alongside great players such as James Wattana. It was of great help in improving my cueing technique and style.”

Fitness, physical and mental, forms a vital part of Kamal’s preparation. “I do a bit of cardio, running and skipping, besides 15-20 minutes of meditation everyday. Mental fitness is just as important as keeping your body in shape.” The Bhopal-based Kamal’s association with cue sports — initially, more as pastime than vocation — began in 1995. “My eldest brother used to play billiards on the weekends and I picked up the game from him. It was in 1999 that I started taking cue sports as a career seriously. Gradually, I gravitated towards snooker.”

Inspiration

Geet Sethi and Yasin Merchant are two players Kamal looks up to for inspiration. “The best thing about these gentlemen is, whether you win or lose to them, they congratulate you immediately and draw attention to where you could have done better. They are also great motivators.”

The 32-year-old is grateful to Sethi for his inputs at a time when he suffered a form-slump. “I had problems with striking in the recent past. When I met Geet in Baroda last month, he pointed out where I was going wrong and helped me get my technique right.” Kamal is also a “big fan” of Pankaj Advani. “He’s gone to the United Kingdom to take part in the professional circuit and we are all keenly tracking his progress. I have learnt a lot by observing his style of play.”

For the bespectacled cueist, the immediate challenges in sight are the World 6 Red Snooker Championship in Bangkok next month and the World Snooker Championships in Sharm el Shaik, Egypt, in November. “It’s a dream come true for me to play against Matthew Stevens, who’s a brilliant player, in the 6 Red championship. It's a format that is fast and engaging for the spectators. I am also gearing up for the World Championships.”

Kamal’s long-term ambition is to make it to the professional circuit. “I want to finish IBSF World No.1 and graduate to the pro-circuit. That will truly be fantastic.”

KAMAL’S CORNER

Books: Khushwant Singh’s works

Actors: Amitabh Bachchan, Irrfan Khan

Holiday Destination: Doha

Attire: Jeans and T-Shirt

Most Good-looking Sportsperson: Geet Sethi

Keywords: Kamal Chawlasnooker

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from:  Mukesh Tiwari
Posted on: Jun 29, 2012 at 11:30 IST
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