Award Name : Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna
Year of Award : 2005
Award for : Sports and Games
Location : Pune, Maharashtra, India
Pankaj Advani is India's leading professional billiards and snooker player. Till now, he has achieved 8 World Titles in billiards and snooker and already he has been named as India’s best all-round professional billiard and snooker player. At a younger age, Indian government has honoured him with numerous honours including Arjuna Award in 2004, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2006 and Padma Shri in 2009. He has achieved all major titles in the game of Billiards. Pankaj Advani was born on 24 July 1985 in Pune. He completed schooling at Frank Anthony Public School, Bangalore. Later he took Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Mahaveer Jain College, Bangalore. He was trained snooker by former national Snooker champion Arvind Savur. He won his first ever title at the age of 12 and it was only a beginning. In the year 2000 he won his first Indian Junior Billiards Championship title and won the same title in 2001 and 2003. In 2003 he became the youngest player to win India Junior Snooker Championship.
Advani made his debut at the Asian Billiards Championship 2002. He was a finalist of the game. Next year he won IBSF World Snooker Championship 2003 in China at the age of 18. It was followed by a succession of wins, the last one being his seventh World Billiards title in the year 2012. He has an outstanding snooker to begin with. At the 2013 Welsh Open, he became the first Indian player to reach the quarter-final stage. In the next season, ranking event was introduced in which he got qualified for by beating Matthew Selt 4–0.