Victory by the sea
Spain's Daniel Sanchez beat Turkey's Murad Koklou in the final of the Billiards World Cup that just ended in Hurghada. Inas Mazhar
The past ten days on Egypt's Red Sea coast of Hurghada have been bustling with activity -- the resort fast transforming into a billiards hub of the world. The last in a series of events was the World Cup, held on the island of Magawish, which was pronounced an international success.
"I don't know what to say but that I'm really happy" said Sanchez upon being crowned the new world Billiards Carom champion. "There have been many World Cup tournaments, but not like this one. It was a spectacular event and I am glad to win today."
Sanchez received his first place award from Egypt's new Youth Minister Anas El-Fiqi, who was attending his first official tournament in his new post.
The final, played in the spectacular pyramid glass court on the island of Magawish was a thrilling one. The sixth seed Sanchez was meeting the world's number 25 of Turkey Koklou. Both players have reached the final on the account of top ranked world players such as the former world champion Swedish Torbjorn Blondahl, Turkey's Samih Sayginer, Belgium's Frederic Caudron and Italy's Marco Zanetti.
However, it wasn't an easy victory for Sanchez -- the world's 25th ranked player gave the Spaniard a hard time.
The Turkish Koklou, who was playing in his first career final of a World Cup tournament, was clearly unyielding in his determination and displayed an unmatched fighting spirit. The chance to take home the trophy, however, was denied. Sixth seed Sanchez snatched the first two games, infusing him with confidence. But a steadfast Koklou regained his balance and snatched the third game and some hope. But the more experienced Spaniard ended his opponent's hopes by clinching the fourth game to win the match and the title. Sweden's Blondahl took the third place award at the World Cup held for the first time in the open air court by the sea.
For Egypt the week was not so fruitful -- not getting any further than the main draw starting line-up. Perhaps the highlight of the week was the win of Egypt's Farouk El-Barky, vice president of both the European and Egyptian Billiard Federation, who won the elections as a board member of the International Billiards Federation which took place the morning of the final match. El-Barky was later appointed as treasurer of the International Billiard Federation.
"This is my second term in the International Federation," El-Barky said. "Electing me for a second time means that we, Egyptians, maintain the credibility and confidence of the International Federation and I believe that the success of the Billiard Euro Cup tournaments which were held here in Hurghada for the past two years played a great role as well," he said. "We have helped in spreading the game more and more. It became even more popular than it used before being played in a pyramid glass court and in the open air, attracting the players and the spectators as well."
During the grand finale of the event, President of the International Billiards Federation Jean-Claude Dubon said he had spent ten exciting days in Hurghada, having enjoyed the city, the sea and the event.
It is expected that the unique setting of Hurghada and Magawish as tournament spots will catapult Egypt into a central player in the international billiards arena.