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Torbjörn Blomdahl crowned as the best of Europe


Published by frits bakker

© © Harry van Nijlen/kozoom.com
Torbjörn Blomdahl shouts out his joy after he took the title by a win against Eddy Merckx.

BRANDENBURG AN DER HAVEL - The European title is back in the hands of one of the greatest players the game has ever known. 52-year old Swede Torbjörn Blomdahl beat Eddy Merckx in Sunday's final and succeeds Italian Marco Zanetti, one year older, as the champion. A standing ovation from the stands was the winner's reward, as he walked through the arena, shining.

Ten years after his last European title in 2005 and thirty years after his first European crown, Torbjörn Blomdahl is still capable of beating the best of the best, and winning major tournaments. ,,I have not won an individual championship in a long time, this feels great'', was his first reaction. The Swede was the best in the three day race, and he saw his form, confidence and a little luck come together. He was not forced to his limits in the early rounds, had a little help from the gods in his match against Nikos Polychronopoulos, and he beat Merckx after a quick start and helped by a strong finish.

The diminutive Belgian powerhouse, known for his mental strength especially under pressure, had a formidable tournament but a remarkably weak opening stage of the final. It cost him dearly: 19-1 and 20-8 at halftime. After the Belgian had reasserted himself, the match looked like it could get tight. But from 23-20, the Swede again took the initiative and produced 6,2 and 7. A run of nine in the equalizing inning brought the final score to 40-31 in 17 innings. The ninth European title for Blomdahl is another addition to his already long resume, with a wealth of World titles and World Cups.

The phenom still has not had enough, he is once again the world's nr. 1, and two years ago became the world record holder tournament average. He can still enjoy a victory as if it was his first one, as he did in Brandenburg today. Maybe his thirst for victory is what makes him so strong, invincible at times.

Eddy Merckx remains on one European title, that he took in 2007 in France with Frédéric Caudron and Dick Jaspers on the podium. Torbjörn Blomdahl took his titles in 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1998, 2001, 2005 and now 2015. The Belgian commented: ,,I don't feel as if I've played poorly, even if my early innings were a lot less productive than Torbjörn's. But I did not miss a lot of makeable positions. Later on, I made a good comeback , only to see him finish it off. To tell you the truth, I felt good enough to try and equalize, even though eighteen is a tall order.''

Merckx stays on one European title for now, the one he won in 2007 with Frédéric Caudron and Dick Jaspers also on the rostrum. Torbjörn Blomdahl will be the new world nr. 1 with 371 points, Sung-Won Choi will be 2nd with 301, Eddy Merckx third with 295, Dick Jaspers fourth with 292, Frédéric Caudron fifth with 247, Jae Ho Cho sixth with 221 and Marco Zanetti seventh with 198.

The European three cushion podium after the ceremony by the Egyptian board member Farouk Barki: from left to right: Eddy Merckx, Torbjörn Blomdahl, the winner, Adnan Yüksel and Dick Jaspers.