As in previous years there have been numerous Australian sport biographies, autobiographies and histories published during the year.
Anyone can contribute to The Roar and have their work featured alongside some of Australia’s most prominent sports journalists.
There is an Indian who is unplayable on green tops and his name is not Kapil Dev, Javagal Srinath, Mohammed Shami or Bhuvi Kumar.
He is an unassuming 32-year-old they call ‘The Prince of India’.
His name – Pankaj Arjan Advani.
A 12-time World Billiards champion. That’s right. Twelve.
A four-time IBSF World Snooker champion.
This would be enough to get by with for most people. But Pankaj Advani is hungry and eager for more.
When he won his most recent world championship beating Singapore’s multiple Peter Gilchrist this Monday, Pankaj Advani surprised even himself with his dominating display.
Blessed with passion, natural ability and dedication for the sport, Pankaj’s career has seen many firsts. He is the only person in the history of the game to have won both the billiards and snooker IBSF world titles as well as the World Professional Billiards Championship.
He was the first person ever to win a ‘Grand Double’ (both the points and time formats in the same year) at the IBSF World Billiards Championships 2005. He repeated the same feat at the 2008 Championships held in Bangalore.
Pankaj was only six months into college when he won the Men’s World Snooker Championship in China at the age of 18.
He has certainly come a long way since then.
Incredible as it may sound, in all his years playing billiards and snooker, he’s has only ever used three cues!
What is truly astonishing about Advani’s achievements is that billiards is not just a young man’s game.
The two giants straddling the game today, Mike Russell and Peter Gilchrist, are 47 and 48 years old respectively. Just before the finals where he lost to Advani, Peter Gilchrist told the Straits Times that he expects to play for another 10 to 15 years as long as he stays fit.
If young Pankaj Advani retains his passion for the game for another 25 years, given his incredible achievements already at the age of 32, it is mind boggling to imagine where he could end up.
On his next visit to Ikea, a couple of trophy cabinets are likely to figure prominently on the shopping list.
It will be a very wise investment.