Aditya Mehta became the first Indian to win the quadrennial World Games snooker gold medal at Cali, Columbia, defeating China’s Liang Wenbo in the final. Mehta beat Thailand’s Poomjaeng Dechawat in the semifinals and Guatemala’s Luis Lemus in the round of 16.
The 27-year-old Mehta joined the Star Snooker Academy in Sheffield, UK a few years ago in order to improve his skills.
Mehta has won the bronze and silver medals at the Doha and Guangzhou Asian Games, team gold at the Asian Indoor Games at Ho Chi Minh City.
Responding to a mail from The Hindu, he said: “The World Games win is probably the biggest moment in my career so far. I have always loved representing India and to win India’s first ever World Games Gold is an honour. It also gives me a lot of confidence to know that I can perform at such high level on the biggest of stages.’’
Mehta was among a group of top 16 players who took part in the event. “The world games are for sports that are not part of the Olympics. The top players from China, Thailand, England, Iran, Ireland and Brazil played in the games.
“Ten players are current professionals with the top seed Joe Perry being No.19 in the world,’’ said Mehta who has taken part in three international tournaments so far and looking forward to play in the Shanghai Masters qualifiers, Indian Open qualifiers, two European tour events in the UK and Germany.
Mehta and Pankaj Advani — should they win their first round matches of the 128 draw qualifiers in England — will get direct entry into the Indian Open draw.
“They have to come through the qualifiers. India being the host is allowed six wildcard entries and we will be having a qualifiers tournament,’’ said S. Balasubramaniam, Secretary, Billiards and Snooker Federation of India.
After finishing at 73 in the last season, Mehta is now keen to improve it.
“My target is getting into the top 50. I need to be in the top 64 to maintain my professional status.
“I am training at Sheffield which is more like home now. The academy is a great place to train and we have excellent facilities and support from the managers. It is my full time base now,” he said.