The Russian Club of New League Prymorye was crowned European Champion on Sunday in the Netherlands after a surprise victory over host Club Amersfoort, led by Dicky Palyama, who were the hot favourites.
Raphael Sachetat, photos : Badmintonphoto (archives)
Dicky Palyama, Yao Jie, Eric Pang, Larisa Griga, and former top player Lotte Bruil were apparently not enough to get the European title on Sunday, as the local favourites bowed 2/4 to an inspired Russian team led by the veteran Stanislav Pukhov, French Open winner in 2005. This event, the equivalent of the Champion’s League for European Badminton should have been an easy battle for the Dutch Club of Amersfoort, yet the pressure and fatigue from long matches before – on top of a tiring Sudirman Cup – probably were the reasons why they couldn’t make it to the top spot, and it was finally the Russians who were the successors of France’s Issy Les Moulineaux.
The French, for their part, were lacking their number one player Anthony Clark, whose absence was a surprise to his own club, and they could only qualify for the quarterfinal stage, were they were beaten by Malaysian–led Spanish team Sevilla 4/2. The Spanish had beaten the French at home in the last edition of the Cup in the 2006 final, but they were later disqualified for hiring an Indonesian player not officially on their team. This time, the Sevillians got it right, but couldn’t match the Dutch’s strength in the semifinal. On the other side, the Russians beat Denmark’s Kastrup – which wasn’t there with the full squad – by 4/1.
In the final between the Dutch and the Russians, the main surprise came with the defeat of Dicky Palyama. Palyama should have stunned Pukhov but the old fox beat the odds and won in two games 21/13 – 21/18. Just before that, Nina Vislova (pictured) had given the lead to her team by beating Larisa Griga, originally from Ukraine, but playing for Amersfoort. The same Vislova gave the winning point in ladies’ doubles with Sorokina against old timer Lotte Bruil and Yao Jie.
The Danes beat Rinconada 4/3 in a thriller for the Bronze Medal
Final standings :
Gold : New League Prymorye (RUS)
Silver : Amersfoort (NED)
Bronze : Kastrup Magleby (DEN)