Take care of the demons within and triumphs follow
In the dour, serious and intense world of billiards and snooker, Pankaj Advani is like a whiff of fresh breeze. In the lobby of a hotel, he walks in wearing a red T, denims (ripped at the knee), white striped shoes, a blue-black beads neckband and a chunky Fossil watch.
“I am trying to dress more casual. My looks have changed, so don’t use old photographs,” he says.
Don’t make the mistake of taking the college student looks at face value. Pankaj is intense competition on the table where his avatar changes from the casual to the starched white shirt, waistcoat, bowtie shiny black shoes look.
Fresh from winning the World Billiards Championship, he turns his thoughts to losing:
“When you are winning, everything goes your way, even a wayward shot turns out to be lucky. When the chips are down you have to dig deep. Battle the demons within. You have to marshal all the inner resources, mental concentration and keep your composure. It is the mental strength that counts for a lot. Traditionally, we have been good at chess, shooting, archery where mental toughness counts,” he says.
Does rivalry, gossip or jibes affect him?
“I don’t let talk affect me. Nor do I like to talk about the chances of winning or the level of competition. I go prepared to give my best, the results take care of themselves,” says Pankaj.
In the highly commercial world, where sportspersons’ lives are laid out on the table, Pankaj is clear: “I don’t like to talk about the game. And I get put off by people who say ‘see you with the trophy’. It is unfair to put that kind of pressure on sportspersons.
Enjoying the game
“Right now, I am enjoying the game the competitive billiards and snooker. On Saturday I am leaving for Austria for the World Snooker Championship. Let’s see what’s there for me on the table there,” he says.SERISH NANISETTI