ITALY, FRANCE & POLAND - AS USUAL!...
There were no surprises at the 50th European Team Championships which celebrated its gold jubilee in Ostend, Belgium, June 22 - July 3, 2010.
In the open series, ITALY added one more victory in the long list of successes they have been enjoying in recent years; it is quite outstanding that Italy has won all open series gold medals of the European Team Championships since 1995, with the sole exception of 2008 when Norway ascended to the podium. This year's success was the 8th European team title for Lorenzo Lauria who now trails Giorgio Belladonna, the all time multi-winner, by just two titles!
The silver medal of the open series went to Poland, one of the strong contenders of the title in recent years, while the bronze medal was won by Israel, in their best open series performance since 1985.
As the European Team Championships is also the qualifier of WBF Zone 1 to the World Championships, interest was high also for the next 3-4 positions. In the World Team Championships (Bermuda Bowl), one berth is reserved for the host country, in addition to the ones assigned to the Zone (usually, 6 berths for Europe). As the 2011 World Team Championships is scheduled to take place in the Netherlands, the effect of this regulation was that if the Netherlands finished among the top 6, then the 7th ranked team would also qualify to represent Europe in the world competition. And so it happened! Iceland and Sweden finished in 4th and 5th place respectively, but the Netherlands were 6th, thus opening the door of the Bermuda Bowl to Bulgaria, the 7th-ranked team.
In the women series, FRANCE scored a precious victory with which they levelled the score with their rivals, Great Britain / England; now both countries stand equal at the top of the classification with 13 gold medals each!
Runners up of the women series were the Netherlands, while third place went to Sweden - both countries were among the favorites and usual protagonists of the series.
Another favorite was Germany who came fourth, and qualified to represent Europe in the Venice Cup competition next year, along with England (5th) and Poland (6th). As in the Bermuda Bowl, the 7th-ranked team - Italy - qualified too, since the world championship host country (Netherlands) was among the top 6 of the series.
The women series in Ostend had a record entry of 28 teams. A similar record was achieved in the senior series, where 23 countries competed.
Here too, the gold medal of POLAND surprised no one; nor did the silver medal of Denmark. Taking third place, Italy won their first ever medal in the Seniors. The remaining qualifiers for the Ernesto d'Orsi Cup world competition next year are France, Germany and Bulgaria.
The Ostend championship will go on record as one of the best organized and surely the best attended of all previous editions. During the event, a special celebration was held for the gold jubilee of the European Team Championship, in which commemorative medals were awarded to the protagonists.