Para-snooker world championship in cross hairs of local cueist
Shayan Shetty, who lost his left arm in an elevator accident at the age of 15, is aiming to make his international debut at the Belgian open para-snooker tournament in March 2020.Updated: Feb 11, 2020 16:37 IST
Pune: City’s Shayan Shetty, who lost his left arm in an elevator accident at the age of 15, is aiming to make his international debut at the Belgian open para-snooker tournament in the second week of March 2020. The 33-year-old, along with five other disabled players, competed in India’s first national para-snooker tournament at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana during the Manisha-Vascon national billiards and snooker championship on Sunday.
In the inaugural event which follows the 6-Red format, Shetty failed to enter the final as he lost in the semi-final round against Madhya Pradesh’s Udit Rai. The outcome has left Shetty unfazed as he was content to take part in the disabled category. Shetty, who started playing snooker at 18, has been taking part in open category for more than 12 years.
“The contest has given exposure to disabled players for the first time. I was looking out for such a competition for many years as we did not have a channel to contact for holding such events. European countries have been hosting events for disabled for many years,” said Shetty.
Belgian Open is a tournament for disabled players from across the globe and is conducted by World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS). WDBS hosts at least five world championships every year in different countries.
Shetty failed to take part in an international contest last year as his passport arrived late. “My passport had to be renewed and the process took a long time. Hence, I could not participate in last year’s world championship at England. I hope to not face any issues this year,” he said.
An electrical engineer by profession, Shetty is passionate about snooker and teaching. When not spending time on the baize, he is at his academy - Galaxy Science Academy - teaching Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics to Class 11 and Class 12 students. For the past eight years, Shetty has been playing and practicing at the Arizona Pool Cafe without a coach. “I learned by observing other players. There was no one to teach me,” Shetty said.
Hailing from Sangli, Shetty settled in Pune after graduation. In 2010, he played in a local city-level tournament at the Deccan Gymkhana and has taken part in seven tournaments over nine years.
“My first tournament is the most memorable. In my very first match, I beat the opponent 2-0 in a best of 3 frames. Nobody in Pune knew that a one-handed guy was playing in a snooker tournament. My performance even impressed the organisers to hold a press conference and I got media attention for the first time,” he said.
Shetty does not use any modified equipment on the baize. “Since I play single-handedly, if the distance between the cue-stick and the cue-ball is more than 1.5 feet, I cannot hit it with power. With two hands, it can be powerful. So, Raja Subramanian recommended a device some players use to tackle these situations. He is yet to send me the design and description of it. Once he does, then I might try it out,” said Shetty.
International para-snooker gold medallist Raja Subramanian was the driving force behind the inclusion of a para-snooker category in the national billiards and snooker tournament. Subramanian, who has won three international para-snooker medals, was pleased to see his request being accepted.
“It feels good to see players playing in a category of their own. I have played in the open category so many times and I can say that at times it gets impossible to compete with able-bodied players,” said Subramanian.
According to Subramanian, such initiatives are always slow at the start, but pick up rapidly as time passes by. “England is very active in hosting para-snooker tournaments. It is also spreading across Europe, but England is still the most active country. When the first para-snooker event was held, it started exactly the way it did today - with six players. Today, there are at least 150 participants,” said the 48-year-old.
At the age of five, Subramanian lost sight of his right eye in an indoor accident. He is a former national number 8, a rank that he clinched at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana in Pune. Despite the eye-problem, the 48-year-old also played table tennis and did not allow his injury to get in the way.
Struggling with a slight back strain, Subramanian is taking a short break from snooker and did not participate in the inaugural national event. However, he is all set to join Shetty for the Belgian Open.
International medal tally
Gold in 2015 Para-Snooker World Championship, Gloucester, England.
Gold in 2016 Para-Snooker World Championship, Gloucester, England.
Silver in 2019 Para-Snooker World Championship, Bruges, Belgium.
6-Red Format - Best of 5 Frames
Udit Rai (Madhya Pradesh) bt Shayan Shetty (Maharashtra) 3-1 (40(24)-26, 23-41, 41-17, 52-07)
Anant Mehta (Maharashtra) bt Harvinder Singh (Maharashtra) 3-0 (40-02, 45-08, 40-01)
Anant Mehta (Maharashtra) bt Udit Rai (Madhya Pradesh) 3-1 (32-28, 44-19, 08-39, 55(22)-11)