Billiards champion Advani declined Karnataka award


Bangalore : Four times world billiards champion Pankaj Advani Sunday lashed out at the Karnataka government for the step-motherly treatment towards sports other than cricket.

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“Why this discrimination towards us? Why is the reaction from the state government so late in recognising our achievements?” Advani asked here at the Karnataka State Billiards Association (KSBA) office.

Advani was speaking a day after he did not turn up for the presentation ceremony to receive the Ekalavya Award the state government conferred on him.

The world champion refused to accept the award, saying that he was not given due respect by the Karnataka government and preferred to be at the Chinnaswamy Stadium to watch the first one-day international cricket clash between India and Australia, which was washed out Saturday night.

The 21-year-old four-time world champion, who has already won the prestigious Arjuna Award and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awards, said the Ekalavya Award is given in recognition of the players’ performance at the national level and it has come too late in his career.

“I wish I had received this award eight years back when I won my first national title. I would have valued it, but now after winning the Arjuna and the Khel Ratna, this Ekalavya Award has no value for me,” said Advani, who is the youngest player to receive the Khel Ratna, the country’s highest sporting award.

The cueist, taking a dig at the Karnataka government, said: “The state government was very prompt in announcing a cash reward for the Karnataka players who were in the Twenty20 cricket squad. But why don’t they announce the same reward when I win world titles, or when any other player from the state does the country proud at the international level?”

“An achievement is always an achievement, but why are we treated differently? Preferential treatment is always given to cricket, which is played only in a handful of countries in the world,” said Advani.

“We are not talking about the popularity of cricket in the country, but we are talking about the treatment meted out to other sports,” he said.

Advani also said the government has maintained double standards in recognising the achievements made by the sportsperson.

“We always ask why don’t we win Olympic medals. I think this is the reason. I think there should be some guidelines in recognising the achievements of sportspersons. Until and unless we get recognition at home, India can never become a sporting nation,” he said.