Expressing optimism ahead of next week’s meeting between the Indian Olympic Association and International Olympic Committee at Lausanne, snooker ace Aditya Mehta said the interest of Indian sportspersons should be kept in mind of all concerned.
“We are now part of the Asian Indoor Games and hopefully everything goes well between IOA and IOC. We are keeping our fingers crossed. We are hoping to at least go to the (June 29 - July 6) Asian Indoor Games (Incheon, Korea),” Mehta told reporters here on Friday.
The May 15 meeting between the officials representing the Indian Olympic body, the sports ministry and the world organisation has been convened to find a roadmap for the re-admission of India into the Olympic fold from which it has been suspended by the IOC.
“They have to think about the sports persons. Its something big for us. And this is just for the Asian Indoor Games. I am thinking further ahead and for all the other sports -for the Asian Games, the Olympics,” said the 27-year-old Asian snooker champion who is making preparations for his fourth straight year in the world pro circuit.
“You need the right kind of people to be pushing forward.
I am pretty sure and confident that the meeting would go well because there is no way we are going to jeopardise the future of our sports people over something as trivial as this,” added the Mumbai-based player who is ranked 73rd in the world.
Mehta, who became only the second cueist from the country to make a 147 break in snooker at the selection trials for the Asian Indoor Games in Bangalore a few days ago, said Indians could not only win the team gold again but also in the individual event.
“Last time (in 2009 at Ho Chi Minh City) we won the team gold -myself, Manan (Chandra) and Brajesh (Damani). We can probably repeat that performance and also get something in the individual event too,” he remarked confidently.
Playing down any perceived rivalry with compatriot Pankaj Advani, Mehta conceded that having the Bangalore ace with him as the second Indian on the world pro snooker circuit has inspired him to do better than before.
“I haven’t played against him in a while because we hardly run into each other. We train at the same place. Its always good to have someone from the same country. We don’t get a lot of support globally. It’s nice to have more than one (playing in the pro circuit).
“For the last 3-4 years I was alone in England just trying to do something for the country. I may not have reached the heights that I wish to reach. But suddenly this season having another Indian in the draw has created a little bit of competition as well. I want to do better than him and he wants to do better than me.
“I don’t know how it works. We are just inspired to do that extra bit. May be that helped me this season. Having him there, I have had some of the best performances of my career.
Beating him in the Asian finals (in Doha) and qualifying (for pro circuit) in the first place.
“But for us there is no rivalry. I cannot go out and compete against only one person. There are hundred professionals out there. For me everyone is competition.
Targeting one person or thinking he is my competition makes no sense.”
Mehta is to play in three tournaments next month and then focus on qualifying for the Indian Open in Delhi in October.
“There are 25 tournaments on the professional tour. As of now in the next month there is the Wuxi Classic, the Australian Open and the Bulgaria PTC - the next three tournaments I am going to play.
“The season will unfold one at a time there are 12 ranking events. And the centrepiece for us is going to be the Indian Open. Hopefully it’s going to happen in October - the professional ranking event in India - In Delhi in October, that’s the news I have received. We have to qualify for that and hopefully we will get in,” said Mehta.
Mehta said he has a coach now and the results have improved, before mentioning his victory over world no. 10 Stuart Bingham as his best performance of the previous season.
“I have a coach now in the UK, Gary Pauldry, who is also the manager of the academy that I am training in. I have been working with him for a few months. I see good results coming.
This season also we would be together and hopefully we will see me moving up a lot more (in rankings).
“I got to the last 16 at the international championships.
I beat world no. 10 Stuart Bingham in the last 32 in China.
That was my biggest performance. Probably after Yasin I was the second Indian to get that far. So that was probably my best.
“The target is to keep moving up. Now that I have reached the last 16, I want to taste the quarter finals, the semis - it’s never enough. You have to keep improving. Self belief, hard work, patience and discipline are the key - if you have these then nothing can stop you.
The cueist said though there was pressure on the circuit it also provided a lot of joy.
“Even though there is a lot of pressure on the pro tour, there’s also a lot of joy to play that kind of snooker and that’s something that has improved in the way I play now.
Slowly and steadily I am moving up, I am not one of those fast movers — trotting up the rankings,”
The Indian ace said while there are out and out attacking players as well as very defensive players on the circuit, he preferred to play somewhere in between.
“Some are aggressive, some are defensive some play tactically, some play freely. I am like one of those in between types. I like to be aggressive, but if required I don’t mind holding back a bit. But I will never call myself a defensive player, I stay aggressive,” he added.
Though he made a record-equalling maximum break of 147 at Bangalore, he felt it was time to move on.
“My philosophy is to live in the moment. I can’t think about the future and I can no longer think about the maximum (break). It’s all over. It’s done with, a record was created but I have to move on. I am going to work hard, learn from my mistakes and take my opportunities”.