Aware of the competition she faces at the global level, Telangana's first woman cueist Thakur Aakanksha Singh is confident of putting up a good show at the World Billiards Championship, beginning in Adelaide from Friday.
The 27-year-old is excited to be representing India at the world championship. "I am very elated. It's a big honour to carry the country's name forward. More than being happy, it's a responsibility on my shoulders," Aakanksha, the first woman cueist from Telangana to feature in the competition, told IANS before leaving for Australia.
"As far as the game is concerned, I have to keep this aside and just focus on the game to play well and give my 100 percent," said the girl, for whom this is the first major international tournament abroad.
One of the four Indian women players who will be in action, Aakanksha is fully aware of the competition she faces at the global level.
The last major international tournament where she represented India was the World under-21 snooker championship in Goa in 2007. "That was more of a learning experience for me," said Aakanksha, who returned to billiards after a six-year hiatus. She was No.4 in India in 2008 when she quit the game to complete her post-graduation in dentistry.
"I had to do dental studies. I had to choose between the two. I didn't have a choice but I remained in touch with the game," she said.
She admits that the long gap has taken some iron out of her. "There were times when I was frustrated. Given the gap of six years, coming back and practising wasn't easy," said the dentist.
The Hyderabadi finished in top 12 in the Senior Nationals in Kolkata early this year.
She was all praise for M. Srinivas Rao, her coach since 2005. "Because of him my basics were strong. I didn't have to start from scratch. It is the technique and other things that I forgot in six years and I had to practise all that again. Now, the game has come back to me though I still need to improve," she said.
Akanksha recalled that she always had an abiding passion for the game. "When you talk of billiards, clubs and parlours come in mind where we see people play snooker. That was definitely not the atmosphere I wanted to take up the game with."
It was a physician Khizer Raouf who introduced her to the game. Khizer was a student of her father T. Amar Singh, also a physician.
She believes women billiards players in India have a lot of scope with the increasing awareness about the game. Her ambition is to put Indian women on the world billiards map.