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Carom Billiard - 3-Cushion - Trophy of the Legends - Eeklo (BEL)

Raymond Ceulemans (80) lonely at the top

Posted by on June 24, 2018

Raymond Ceulemans (80) lonely at the top

© Dirk Acx
Raymond Ceulemans (left) the winner in the final with Ludo Dielis

EEKLO - The hegemony of the one and only legend in the Trophy of the Legends, was seen on the scoreboard at the end. Raymond Ceulemans, eighty years young and at and around the billiards still a delight to watch, won the tournament of former top billiard players this Sunday with a supremacy as in his best years. The 21-time world champion in three cushion defeated one of his eternal rivals, Ludo Dielis, in the final of the Trophy, 40-10 (!) In 29 innings. The Trophy of the Legends, organized in the Belgian city of Eeklo, is in the hands of the only player in the world who fully deserves it. Raymond Ceulemans was the world champion in 3-cushion from 1963 eleven times in a row, then, after one year with Nobuaki Kobayashi again six times in a row and in his later years another 4 times, of which his last in Luxembourg 2001.

The symbolism afterwards was wonderful. The little Belgian boy, who took the balls from the billiard and handed them to tye organizer Leslie Menheer, took a last look at the four players on stage. The Belgian, national anthem had sounded twice: once for the winner Raymond Ceulemans and one last time for the organizing country. Raymond Ceulemans underwent the ceremony on routine, without cheering, certainly with a subdued joy. He, the grand master, the eternal figurehead of global three-cushion, the ambassador with his grandeur and his charisma, once again managed to show his class to the world.

The audience in the wonderful hall in the center of Eeklo rewarded him with a standing ovation. When Ceulemans lost his first match to the Japanese Hiroshi Sasaki on Thursday, he told us with a smile: ,,We haven't finished yet, they won't get rid of me, wait.'' And what happened..., he made it all come true. On Sunday afternoon, at the end, Ceulemans stood on the highest stage, with only wins after the start and after a glorious final day. The Spanish national coach Jose Maria Quetglas first was knocked down in the semi-final 40-23 in 36. The finishing touch against Ludo Dielis actually was a formality, because Dielis was not a shadow of the player from the previous matches.

The Trophy of the Legends got the final of which the organization had dreamed. The stage with two famous Belgians, the Spaniard Quetglas and a Belgian outsider, Marc Roofthooft, crowned a tournament in which old rivals met and three former world champions (Raymond Ceulemans, Ludo Dielis and Rini van Bracht) once again were in the spotlights. The organizer, Leslie Menheer, spoke of a very successful tournament at the end, which certainly deserves a sequel. ,,We're going to evaluate it with our organization and will decide later whether we will continue next year.''

The organizer had a few minor points: ,,I was expecting more participants in the preliminaries and more audience. We live in a region with a lot of billiard players and fans, but unfortunately, just a few have come to see the legends.'' Leslie Menheer wanted a World championship for 65+ players. ,,That was only possible if we gave a guarantee for three years. I didn't want that, I wanted to wait and see the first edition.''

The stage of the Trophy of the Legends was during the ceremony for Raymond Ceulemans, Ludo Dielis, Jose Maria Quetglas and Marc Roofthooft.

The final ranking:

1 Raymond Ceulemans 10-1.163-10

2 Ludo Dielis 8-0.928-8

3 Jose Maria Quetglas 6-0.941-7

4 Marc Roofthooft 6-0.923-10

5 Martin Spoormans 6-1.379-13

6 Richard Bitalis 6-0.916-7

7 Poul Bjerring 4-0.844-7

8 Paul Stroobants 2-0.774-4

9 Hans-Jürgen Kühl 2-0.699-8

10 Rene Vermeiren 2-0.794-6.

Raymond Ceulemena (r) and Ludo Dielis at the start of the final match

Spanish coach Jose Maria Quetglas, the number 3 on stage

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