Indian cueists start their preparation for Asian Games

New Delhi : With just a little over three weeks to go for the Asian Games in China, the Indian cueists began their quest for the medal glory in the quadrennial event, sweating it hard at the final conditioning camp that begins in Bangalore, on Wednesday.

To enhance the country`s medal hopes in billiards, snooker and pool disciplines at the November 12-27 Games in Guangzhou, China, the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI) is organising a 14-day camp for the final squad.

The seriousness of the effort could be sensed from the arrival of legendary coach Derek Del Hill of England. The 6`9" Englishman has been roped in for a fortnight by the BSFI to brighten country`s medal prospects in the snooker discipline.

"There is lot of pressure in the Asian Games as our sport is played on a knockout basis. There is best of five frames 100 points format and that is quite fast. You need to be mentally strong to change your gameplan according to the situation warranted," Pankaj Advani, 2006 Doha Asian Games gold medallist in Billiards singles category, told to reporters.

"This conditioning camp will help us prepare better for the event and increase our country`s medal tally. On wednesday most of the selected players have started their preparation. We have to put in six hours every day divided into two sessions of three hours each. In the evening we discuss our game with the respective discipline coaches.

"We have got a real boost with the arrival of Hill. He is just fabulous with his technique. I had a session with him on wdnesday and we exchanged certain ideas and discussed shot
selection. His knowledge will definitely going to help us in snooker event. India`s Sanjay Sawant will also be around to help us," Advani said.

However, Advani and veteran Geet Sethi will be at the camp for only three days as they will be flying to Leeds, in UK for the World Professional Billiards Championships beginning on October 27

"I am leaving on Sunday for England for the world professional championship. That is also a Major championship where I will be defending my title," said Advani.

Advani had defeated nine-time champion Mike Russell 2030-1253 last September to win the elusive World Professional Billiards Championship.

The BSFI had a series of selection camp tournaments over the last two-three months before naming the squad for the quadrennial event. These selected 15 will lock horns with the best cueists in the continent.

Advani and Sethi will spearhead India`s challenge in the billiards category. Advani wil also feature in the Snooker singles event. Dharminder Lilly and Vijay Goel will represent the country in carombole while Aditya Mehta, Yasin Merchant and Brijesh Damani will be seen in the Snooker singles event.

Sumit Talwar, Alok Kumar and Manan Chandra will partner in the Snooker team event.

Vidya Pillai, Chitra Magimairaj and Anuja Thakur will take part in the women`s 6-red snooker event.

Filipino coach Jorge C Dacer, who had a three-week stint in August with the Indian pool players, is also expected to arrive soon for the camp.

During his last visit to India, Dacer had said he will not hesitate to take out-of-the-box ways like yoga and meditation to improve the standard of the players who lack
aggressive approach and ability to hold their nerves during a close encounter against tough opponents.

India coach Manoj Kothari will look after the two veterans -- Advani and Sethi. In the last Asian Games, apart from Advani`s gold medal, Ashok Shandilya had won a silver in
Billiards singles category while in the Snooker team event, the country had won a bronze medal. Sethi and Shandilya won a bronze in the billiards doubles event.