Bengaluru: Disappointed at the exclusion of Sourav Kothari and Chitra Magimairaj from the Arjuna Awards list, ace Indian cueist Pankaj Advani on Tuesday said the central government is discriminating and not giving due recognition to non-Olympic sportspersons in the country.
"Why there must be a discrimination. Why are we looking at the Olympics and Asian Games as be all and end all sport, and measure our sporting excellence just based on our performances in Olympics," he told reporters here after he was felicitated by the Karnataka Snooker and Billiards Association for winning his 13th World Championship title in Karachi.
Advani, who pocketed his 13th World title after defending his World 6-Red Snooker crown, had outplayed top Chinese cueist Yan Bingtao 6-2 in the best-of-11 frame final.
But Advani is concerned about the plight of cue sport players in the country and urged the government to look into these things and implement policies without discriminating Olympics and non-Olympics sportspersons in terms of recognising their achievements.
"I don't know what is really happening when it comes to decision - who makes this decision, but someone really needs to look at these things seriously," he said.
Advani believes tha the government should realise that the cuesport players are as deserving as Olympians and Asiad players.
"If policies are made for the development of sports I think the government realises that we (cueists) also achieve as much as those sports persons competing in Olympics and Asiad," he said.
Advani also feels that the cue coaches and trainers are also not given their due for creating world champions over the years.
"It is disappointing that our trainers and coaches do not get Dronacharya awards just because they are not participating in Olympics," he said. Advani said it is also sad that the Sports Authority of India cuts half of the total funds allocated for cue sports.
"Our funds by the SAI is cut by half because we are not playing in any four-years sports event," he said. Advani also criticised the government for not including cuesports under the Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS), meant for training athletes for next Olympics.
"The government can include cue sports in the Target Olympics Podium Scheme ... The government has crores of money allocated to train athletes two years before the Olympics. If they have this kind of money why can't it give it cue players," Advani questioned.
Asked what impact will this have on cue sports, Advani said it will simply kill the aspirations of people who want to take up cue sports. "If you do this (discrimination), you will be killing those aspirants who want to take up cue sports. They will say, hey, if the sport is not an Olympics game and the government does not recognises it, then what's the point in playing the sport," he said.
Advani, in sheer sarcasm, said, "The government in other words is telling us that if you are extremely consistent and winning year after year, it is not good for you, you need to win once in four years. If one bags a medal in Olympics, it becomes a part of history but what about the history being created here by us."
Vidya Pillai, who won silver for India in the World 6-Red Snooker title in Karachi, said it would be only good if the government recognises cuesport players for their achievements at the world stage.
"I think we have done well at national and international levels. It will be only fair if the government recognises us," she said.
Vidya was beaten 2-5 by the reigning world ladies billiards professional champion Ng On-Yee of Hong Kong in the women's 6-Red Snooker final.
Vidya also questioned the nomination of thirteen out of sixteen players whose points were below than hers. "There are players who have not even done well in the national level last year ... Out of 16, 13 who were listed they were below me in points. I don't know on what basis they were nominated," she said.
Vidya also contended that when the government can recognise sportspersons doing well in Asian Games, then there shouldn't be any reason for it to deprive cueists, who have performed in world championships.
"If you can honour somebody who is doing good at the Asian level, come on we are talking about the world, and it is not easy to bring medals back. We are also consistent. I do not think why should we not be given the importance," she said.