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Championship of the ultimate carom

Posted by on January 13, 2013

Championship of the ultimate carom

© Dirk Acx
The three cushion podium with Roland Forthomme as great winner.

BLANKENBERGE – His last point against Frédéric Caudron was a catharsis, his last against Roland Forhomme was utter despair.  On the podium where Forthomme received the gold, runner-up Eddy Leppens could not hold back the tears.

Not that anyone begrudged Roland Forthomme his 3-cushion title. The Wallonian had fought tooth and nail for it: he defeated Eddy Merckx by a margin in the semifinal, and kept a cool head in the final against Leppens. It brought him his second national title, following 2009 when he beat Jef Philipoom.

The winner did not hide his emotion either. After the last point, he wildly swayed his que, engaging the audience in his joy, later saying: ,,I hope this marks the start of a new era for me.''

In his best years, he put two World Cup victories on his resume, but he has now dropped in the world ranking, too deep for a player with his qualities.

The new Belgian champion has regained his confidence and fighting spirit. He ended the year 2012 with a world record equalling run of 28, and started 2013 with a title that counts. The Belgian national 3-cushion title, when your competitors are named Eddy Merckx and Frédéric Caudron, is the most coveted one of them all.

Roland Forthomme grabbed it at the gates of hell, in closing minutes that saw Eddy Leppens miss his matchball by a single millimeter and brought two penalty series to decide the outcome: the first one ending 1-1, the second going 5-1 to Forthomme.

It was the “encore” from the points that ended the Fortomme show. He was still aglow half an hour later, looking back at his tournament and ahead to its consequences. Next year, the WC for national teams (Viersen) with Eddy Leppens, this year the EC in Brandenburg individually. ,,If I can get a little higher in the ranking, I also hope to play in the WC in Antwerp.''

It was all sour grapes for Eddy Leppens. ,,I saw my youngest daughter cry in the stands, and then I lost it. I am too emotional. I could not possibly have been any closer: to miss that shot at 39-39, and by a hair… that really hurts so bad.''

With a face that oozed disappointment, he said: ,,I play two matches to a finish, first in 47/2, only to see Niessen equalize and win the title, then against Forthomme in 3-cushion. It is truly frustrating.''
Eddy Merckx won the battle for the bronze against Frédérick Caudron:  40-29 in 19 innings.

The 3-cushion podium:
1 Roland Forthomme
2 Eddy Leppens
3 Eddy Merckx.

The best 3-cushion averages:
1 Eddy Merckx 2.146
2 Frédéric Caudron 1.895
3 Eddy Leppens 1.878
4 Roland Forthomme 1.777
5Peter De Backer 1.776
6 Jef Philipoom 1.569
7 Peter Ceulemans 1.532
8 Frédéric Mottet 1.519
9 Martin Spoormans 1.493
10 Francis Forton 1.485
11 Davy van Havere 1.462.

Frédéric Caudron won two titles in balkline, 71/2 and 47/1. He also won the 1-cushion.
Johan Claessen was champion in free play, Patrick Niessen won the 47/2.
Wesley van Apers was the new junior champion in 3-cushion, with six match points and a 0.674 average.

Belgian federation chairman Reginald Depoorter looked back on a highly successful tournament: the casino room where the biliards were placed was under capacity in the closing weekend, when hundreds of spectators showed up.

,,Next year, we will use the upper floor room. It’s bigger, and we can create better sponsor hospitality there', said Depoorter in his closing speech.

On the morning of the final day, Frédéric Caudron and Eddy Merckx were laureled by the city of Blankenberge, in honor of their world title for national teams 2012.

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