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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Other Sport

'Compatriots toughest competiton'
Sharmistha Chaudhuri, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 02, 2013
First Published: 01:14 IST(2/3/2013)
Last Updated: 01:16 IST(2/3/2013)

Accolades have been coming his way for the last 26 years. Not only is he the only Indian to have brought medals to the country in billiards, snooker and pool, the 44-year-old is also the first to have achieved a rare double in the Asian Championships. That's Alok Kumar for you.

Taking up cuesports at a young age in Sangrur, he had to work harder than the rest to prove his worth. "Cuesports isn't popular where I come from. I've actually practiced at home throughout my life," the senior ONGC executive says.

A member of the six-member squad to represent India in the Asian Billiards and U-21 Snooker Championships in Indore this April, Kumar believes he is a contender.

Tough competition
"I won the Asian billiards in 2011 which added to the U-21 snooker title I had pocketed in 2004," Kumar stated. "There is a lot of competition from foreign players but the toughest will be from my compatriots. After all, there are two world champions (Ashok Shandilya and Rupesh Shah) in our squad." Kumar recently lifted his fifth national billiards title, which has boosted his confidence ahead of the Asian Championships.

Reigning champion Pankaj Advani will be giving the meet a miss. "His absence will be a psychological advantage for everyone. Everyone will be fancying their chances because Advani would have been one of the strongest contenders," the Arjuna Awardee claims.

Having started with snooker, Kumar believes, as he grows older, his game today is suited to billiards.

With five national billiards, six snooker and three pool titles already in his kitty, Kumar isn't ready to call it quits. Keeping himself physically fit and mentally sharp, Kumar is rarely short of match practice. "I don't have the luxury of staying at home because I participate in three different games." Armed with confidence, Kumar can't wait to add a second Asian billiards title to his overflowing trophy cabinet.


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