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Champion cueist Pankaj Advani [Images] has won the Rajiv Gandhi Gandhi Khel Ratna, the country's highest sporting honour.
The 21-year-old Advani, who hails from Bangalore, won the World Billiards Championship in 2005 and World snooker title in 2003.
Last year, he became the first player to win the Time and Points format titles in the IBSF World Billiards Championships in Malta, Spain.
Advani is currently part of the Indian contingent at the World Snooker Team Championship, in San Jose, USA.
"It is definitely an ecstatic feeling when you get the country's highest award. I wanted it very badly," he had said before leaving for the US event.
Olympic [Images] silver medallist Rajyavardhan Rathore won the Khel Ratna last year.
The selection committee, constituted under the chairmanship of Raj Singh Dungarpur, to decide the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award 2005, Arjuna Awards 2005 and Dhyan Chand Awards - 2006, met on August 17 and considered all the nominations it received from agencies authorised under the provisions of the respective schemes.
On the basis of detailed deliberations on each case, the committee arrived at a consensus on the winners.
Rahul Dravid [Images] was also supposed to be in contention for the Khel Ratna but a goof-up by the Board of Control for Cricket in India in submitting his nomination cost the Indian captain the honour.
Advani takes special pride in claiming the world prize on the point-format in Malta before becoming the youngest player, at 19 years, to win the traditional time-format billiards crown.
Advani is only the second cueist after Malta's Paul Mifsud to win both the billiards and snooker amateur world titles.
He said he also plans to make himself available for the awards ceremony.
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