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November 12, 2019

World champion: Asif returns home to hero’s welcome

Sports

November 12, 2019

KARACHI: Two-time world champion Muhammad Asif returned to Karachi on Monday after having become the first Pakistani, and the fifth cueist overall, to clinch the coveted trophy more than once.

The 37-year-old Asif, hailing from the industrial city of Faisalabad, was warmly greeted by the officials of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) and a sizeable number of snooker fans here at the Jinnah International Airport, upon his arrival from Antalya, Turkey, where he had overpowered Jefrey Roda of the Philippines 8-5 in the best-of-15-frame final on Saturday.

The atmosphere at the arrival lounge became quite festive with the chanting of the slogans of ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ and ‘Muhammad Asif Zindabad’ as the world champion made an appearance with the glittering trophy in his hands.

“We don’t receive adequate appreciation or incentives from the government despite bringing laurels to the country which certainly causes disappointment but we try to live with it and continue performing with our heart and soul to keep Pakistan’s flag flying high,” Asif said while talking to the reporters at the airport.

“The road to victory in Turkey was neither smooth nor straightforward. I was being troubled by back injury but I managed to overcome it with my will power. My opponents posed serious challenges but thankfully I succeeded in taming them and returned undefeated in the entire tournament,” he revealed.

Asif has had to endure tough times during his two World Championship conquests in 2012 and 2019, but he showed resilience and vivacity to prove his mettle against the heaviest of odds.

Muhammad Yousuf was the first Pakistani to win the World Championship when he achieved the honour at Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1994.

Asif emulated Yousuf by annexing the crown at Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2012 and went a step further by regaining the title at Antalya, Turkey, on Saturday.

He has become the fifth cueist to win the title more than once since the championship’s inception in 1963. Garry Owen of Wales, who won the inaugural event at Kolkata, India, successfully defended his crown at Karachi, Pakistan, in 1966 when the city hosted the second edition of the IBSF World Snooker Championship.

Rad Edmonds of England became the second cueist to do it when he claimed the titles in 1972 and 1974 while Paul Mifsud of Malta did it in 1985 and 1986. Pankaj Advani of India remains the only cueist to have won the world title three times, having done it in 2003, 2015 and 2017.

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