New Delhi: When we talk about cue sports, the one name that is much synonymous with the sport is Pankaj Advani.

The legend with 23 world titles in billiards and snooker spoke about the preparations and mindset that went into winning back-to-back championships in two different formats in the third episode of ‘The Finish Line’, hosted by Asian Games gold medallist squash player Saurav Ghosal.

In an eight-part web series, ‘The Finish Line’ documents eight defining moments from Indian sports by recreating the moment by the very athlete, who made history.

Flying into Doha for the IBSF World Championships, Pankaj had already won 16 World tiles. He had gone there to participate in the shot format billiards, long format billiards and the best of 15 frame snooker World Championships. When asked about his motivation to add to the 16 world titles under his belt, Pankaj said

“The year 2017 was a very interesting one because I had a lot of events to play in and this was the last major event of the season. I knew the conditions in Doha as I had been there a lot of times and they were doing it in a bigger arena this time. It was the first time that the World Billiards and Snooker Championships were being held back-to-back. I thought I would burn myself out so I started focusing a lot on my fitness and prepared well physically. I worked out and ensured that I was in good condition and I thought to myself that there is an opportunity to do something that has never been done before."

“I was playing against an extremely formidable opponent like Mike Russell and I had no choice but to produce my best to win the title. Once I got that under my belt, it gave me a lot more confidence going to the longer format and the snooker championship. I would have loved to win all three, but then of course we can’t win everything,” said Pankaj when asked about winning the two titles.

When quizzed about how he was feeling before the snooker final, he said, “I was very nervous at the start of the snooker final because you know, there are silly thoughts running in your mind always. I mean as a sportsperson you know that. Like for example, I had won the first billiards championship, and so then I got the bronze in the other billiards final. For me, that was a loss because I am only thinking about the gold, and then when the snooker came I finally said to myself that here I have a chance to win another title, but if I lose, I will go back with only one title. But I eventually won the championship and felt content about it."

Pankaj ended up becoming the first-ever player to win the World Billiards Championships and World Snooker Championships back-to-back, that too in space of a couple of weeks. His hard work and dedication towards the sport have helped him win 23 world titles and his name will go down in history as one of the greats of the sport.

The eight legends who have been confirmed for season 1 of ‘The Finish Line’ are Abhinav Bindra, Viswanathan Anand, Dinesh Karthik, Pankaj Advani, Smriti Mandhana, Leander Paes, Parul Parmar and Varun Singh Bhati.