Racketlon Breakthrough in Sofia
Gothenburg, Sweden, 2004-07-18
Unanimous reports talk about a very successful and interesting first Bulgarian Open, the first racketlon tournament known to have ever taken place in Eastern Europe. Read Magnus Eliasson's briefing from Sofia below, followed by an inspired longer report signed English racketlon enthusiast Keith Lesser.
Full results from Sofia can be found here.
Magnus Eliasson, Sofia, Friday 040716:
A short briefing about what is happening in the Bulgarian Open in Sofia. There were 6 groups of three players and two groups of four players starting today friday 040716 in the main event. Six women players and three veterans altogether 35 players from six countries. facilities are very good and the organisation very heplful. Tne weather is great and everybody seems to enjoy the tournament. Three television stations were here today and will cover the event throughout the tournament. The group winners will play eachother in quaterfinals tomorrow. Play has not yet finished but it looks like it will be four international players and four bulgarians playing QF tomorrow. More info coming later.
Keith Lesser, Sofia, Saturday 040717:
The Bulgarian Adventure continues.
We embarked on our journey via Munich on Thursday evening, which seems like an eternity ago.
Magnus Eliasson, Callum Reid, Chris Noakes, Katy Buchanan, Jeljazko Valkov, Nikolai Angelov, Dinko Hodzev and Stonchev Ivonchev provide today's quarter final line up.
Scores are not yet available but Eliasson, Noakes and Reid have progressed.
The most exciting tournament match so far finished minutes ago with Buchanan (doubling in the Men's event) gaining revenge over Greek badminton and Racketlon international Christos Poulios (who defeated her in the recent British Open) by one point. In true Racketlon style, the match was very unpredictable.
London - 25-23 TT, 2-21 SQ, 21-0 BA, 21-17 TE (Poulios +7)
Sofia - 21-12 TT, 21-3 BA, 12-21 TE, 2-21 (Buchanan +1)
Katy proceeds to play Bulgarian number 1 squash and Racketlon player Nikolai Angelov who won the World amateur championships in Gothernburg last November. Both (Christos and Katy) have greatly improved their table tennis, however the pivotal factor proved to be Katy's tennis.
Another exciting Ladies match: Aneta Yaneva narrowly lost to Izena Atanasona by two points in a gruelling encounter: Atanasova-Yaneva +2 (21-13 TT, 17-21 BA, 13-21 TE, 21-15 SQ).
Buchanan has destroyed all in her path, as has her men's world ranked equivelent Eliasson, Magnus. A tremendous result includes Katy's win yesterday against Bulgarian's squash and badminton international number one (who's name has at this point escaped me.....!) Particularly impressive was the badminton set, this can provide heart to all Rackathlete's round the world. Buchanan from an almost beginner with 2 practice sessions a week has become a strong force and difficult opponent, with flaired drops leaving the crowd on their knees in ore of her talents.
Sofia has brought the Racketlon bug further afield yet again and has without a doubt uncovered some excellent talents.
Antoan Gerginov despatched experience Rackathlete Chris Noakes 21-1 at tennis. However narrowly lost to the squash dynamo by 10 points.
Dinko Hodzev, who also took part in last year's world championships is another well known name, however a new name in world Racketlon is 35 year old Stoian Ivanchev, scores are not yet available, however in today's quarter final Ivanchev narrowly lost to Callum Reid with Reid edging home in the final squash set. Nikolay Dudin who only narrowly lost to Poulios by 1 point must also be commended on his Racketlon debut narrowly losing in the group of death also to Buchanan. Dudin seemingly has a good allround game with strong squash.
In yesterday's most explosive encounter Ivanchev defeated England table tennis specialist Keith Lesser by a narrow 6 points. Lesser played exceptionally well to keep Ivanchev to 3 points at TT, however was no match for the 7 years ago 2 time Bulgarian Badminton men's champion, who sensationally quit badminton 5 years ago. Stoian has since played tennis most days of the week and is Bulgarian amateur tennis champion. 21-6, 21-0 to Stoian. Lesser was shocked not to win a tennis point, as some of the rallies lasted seemingly 30 strokes on the deadly clay :-)). 21-2 was a target just out of Lesser's reach, the Bulgarian fought like a dog to make 2 points. The squash set finished 21-9, however the game was over. A momentus match. Seemingly satisfied a tired Lesser kept upbeat and is set on driving a talented young Scot to victory over the world champion in Sunday's final. Lesser will later drill the Scot on service and strategy - the key to victory. A good start may unsettle the iron man, and an upset may seem possible.
Angelov may have the edge over a tired Buchanan, who will aim to test her opponent in all 4 sports however Angelov surely possesses a terrible Racketlon profile for Katy and will surely proceed through to the semi finals where he will most likely face world champ Magnus. If Katy were to rise above fatigue and conquer the Bulgarian 7 time mens squash champion/former Bulgarian junior national squash team member it would make her achievements all the more sensational.
More official and unofficial reports are to follow (including perhaps Levs supreme cheapness and Sofia's night life, plus new pre-match pingis training NOT TO BE MISSED).
Keith Lesser, Sofia, Sunday 040718:
The Bulgarian Open delivered beyond expectation. Puzant and his team must be commended for their formidable hospitality and efficient transportation and time keeping. We were well fed and our needs adhered to the finest detail. Magic shows, Sofia nightlife, dinner with a gold medal olympian weightlifter and drinking into the night with Bulgaria's most famous singers and pop stars gave true meaning to a truely unique international Racketlon experience.
As expected the top seeds prevailed. They currently call the best Racketlon male and female players in the world MAGNUS ELIASSON AND KATY BUCHANAN. Both have shown irresistable enthusiasm in making every tour event and have set the benchmark with tremendous practice regimes outlining the benchmark to meet the most talented Rackathletes in the world.
Katy B impressed all with a truely brilliant allround performance failing to drop a set in the ladies event in any one discipline. The current world number one, beat a host of Bulgarian International standard badminton players and her exponential improvement in the last 6 months shows that when talent and genius (Katy is happy to outline the mathematical PIE to 120 decimal places and outline the famous physics mystery of measuring a piece of string around the circumference of the world) is combined with hard work, training and coaching, a Racketlon force to be reckoned with is formed.
Eliasson had to perform to the top of his game to come close to winning the first ever Bulgarian Racketlon Open. From the perspective of ghosts of Racketlon past, Bulgaria showed a snipet of present versus the future. Eliasson first defeating Bulgaria supremo Nikolai Angelov and then in a pulsating final Scotland's young whizz Callum Reid.
Reid took the opening table tennis set 21-13, Eliasson fought back with a 21-7 badminton victory and after racing to a 6-0 lead in the tennis the title seemed all but won. However, the great one's concentration lapsed in the Bulgarian sun and Reidimus fought back to be ahead at the change of ends 11-10! The iron man eventually completed the tennis set with a strong 21-13 victory. 21-6 being the eventual squash score and as Reidimus strode around the squash court with pace, skill and precision, his longer ginger locks gave us a peak into future encounters. Trickle boasts and low drops were no problem for the professional psychologist and he was far too consistent to even contemplate defeat. An absolutely battered Scot came off the court strong to roars and cheers, as Racketlon reached the hearts of the Sofia crowd. Magnus 1 - 0 Rest of the World.
Magnus made the choice to come to Bulgaria and the match the home crowd longed for against home grown magician Nikolai Angelov meant 1 of the 4 semi-finalists was a home talent. Angelov started well with a 12-21 defeat in TT, with Magnus lacking the strategic Racketlon necessary to defeat the young talent. Angelov levelled the match in Badminton despatching the world champion with relative ease 21-12. Going into tennis the crowd applauded and roared Nikolai to ace King Magnus, however the Swede proved too strong 21-2 TE. The Bulgarian Squash multi-champion lost to Eliasson in a strong physical battle 21-19 meaning an overall deficit of 21 points not a margin most in the world can boast, certainly the future holds much for Nikolai Angleov and Callum Reid. John O'Donnell must be sitting on a Coventry lavatory wondering when his position of British number one will be relinquished. O'Donnell must strive for improvement, otherwise he will be kicked out out of Racketlon stardom and a return to supremacy would be tremendously difficult for the ex-squash professional.
Angelov defeated Buchanan.
A close encounter saw Katy's best ever Racketlon TT performance 21-13. A truely excellent performance when you consider Angelov obtained 12 points from world champion Eliasson. Katy served, blocked and looped like a veteran and must soon be looking to represent Scotland at full international level (which potentially could happen in 3+ sports). Buchanan is set to make the records and break them.
Reid defeated Ivanchev.
Ivanchev conquered new England number 7, Keith Lesser in the previous round. Ivanchev showed his elite Racketlon credentials with a 6 point victory over the improving table tennis allrounder. Stoian was on the floor after his encounter with Lesser and proved just too weak for Reid. However Callum (expected to make the final) nearly succumbed to arguably the 3rd strongest player in the tournament. 21-8 TT, 10-21 BA, 11-21 TE, 21-6 SQ leaving an 8 point margin for victory. Lesser took heart from this result and Reid progressed to easily defeat Chris Noakes in Saturday's semi-finals in the 3 sports. 21-15 TT, 21-9, 21-9 (BA, TE). Noakes, frustrated not to get Reid on the squash court, spoke later for 4 hours on the different profile possibilities.
Noakes knowledge of profiles proved useful as he despatched Angelov to finish the tournament 3rd with a very impressive, strong performance. The former body builder won 21-5 TT, 5-21 BA, 21-12 TE, 21-18 SQ. Noakes in true Racketlon style benfited from being strong at squash and table tennis, consistent at tennis and improving at badminton to provide a victory over a class player. Angelov potentially right now is a top 20 in the world player and Noakes best victory to date.