THE 41st WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS of Petanque took place in Brussels, Belgium, September 21-25, 2005. France 1, coached by Philippe Quintais, claimed the title, although it lost twice in the first round (against Belgium 2 and the Ivory Coast). Philippe Suchaud won his sixth title, Henri Lacroix his fourth, and the youngsters, Julien Lamour and Simon Cortes, took their first. The victory brings France’s championship total to twenty-two.
The Belgians proved to be warm and generous hosts for a tournament that was flawlessly organized. Despite having only 16 courts for fifty teams, the event proceeded on schedule. There is neither scandal nor protest to report. Lots of (incredibly good) beer was sold and consumed. The Belgians filled the stands with noise and song, loudly supporting their two teams, but always with impeccable sportsmanship. (France, as defending champion, and Belgium, as host nation, fielded two teams.)
The Belgians were delirious when, in round 1, Belgium 2, world champions in 2000, defeated France 1, 13-10. In the final, however, France 1 took its revenge all too easily, 15-6. The scoreline: 0-4, 2-4, 2-5, 3-5, 3-6, 3-8, 3-9, 6-9, 6-11, 6-13, 6-14, 6-15.
This article is organized around the photos of Martha Lewis, whose work can also be seen online at all featured articles in this web site. Martha focused on some of the major teams, especially Belgium, France, and Italy, on a few important games of Team USA, and also on happenings around and outside of the arena. (Official results and more pictures are online at:http://www.fipjp.com/~brussels2005.)
First Day: The Parade of Nations and Outside the Arena
The first set of photos focuses on the parade of nations, mostly from behind the scenes. There are some special ones: of the French teams, saying hello to Martha (whom they have known for many years now), while awaiting the parade; the Belgian team drinking beer in the outside pub; and Mauritius on the steps of the football stadium nearby. Cambodia’s second appearance at the Championships made our shooter, Ti, very happy. Armenia made its inaugural showing at the event, with a team of Armenians from Marseille doing the pointing and shooting. Pick-up games could be found outside, on the grass, in the parking lots and paths. And Martha found Quintais and his team off by themselves, playing cards.
For Martha’s photos of the First Day.
That evening, we visited the old Gothic city center of Brussels. We saw the famous little boy peeing, which Nghia especially enjoyed, some art deco design, and we tried to get Gérard drunk. For photos of Old Brussels.
The American team was comprised of Alec Stone Sweet (captain), Richard “Ti” Meas, and Nghia Nguyen. Hans Jepson, captain of the team that qualified, was unable to participate for family reasons. He sent his regrets and full support of our efforts. Our FPUSA friends of Belgian origin, Felix and Max Legrand, aided by Gérard Canabou, filled out the American delegation. They provided much appreciated logistical support and guidance from the bench.
During the first round, teams were drawn into eight pools of six or seven nations each. The Americans placed second in their seven-team pool, beating Armenia, Denmark, Djibouti, and Ireland. We lost our first game to a mediocre Switzerland, and our third game to the superb team from Mauritania (which would be eliminated only in the quarter-finals by France 2). The highlight of the first round was our 13-11 victory against Denmark, which suffered its only loss in the round, after leading Team USA by the imposing score of 10-2.
The second round proceeded in eight pools of four teams, with Team USA drawing the Group of Death: France 2 (the defending world champions); Belgium 2 (three players from the 2000 world championship team), and Mauritius, which had easily won its first round pool. Given the draw for the first game (Belgium 2), Team USA would have had to beat Belgium 2 and France 2 to move to the round of sixteen. The Americans played their best game of the tournament against Belgium 2, with scarcely a wasted ball, but lost the battle anyway. We were then eliminated by Mauritius in a tough game. For photos of First Round Games .
Martha took dozens of great photos of the USA-Belgium 2 contest. The game was accompanied by the deafening noise created by more than one thousand Belgian fans chanting and stomping after almost every ball played. France 2, playing on the adjacent court, looked on, paying even more attention after USA held the lead through the early rounds. For photos of USA v. Belgium 2.
Team USA finished tied for 25th.
2005 — The Shooting Competition
The shooting competition was won by Thaleungkiat Phusa-Ad, who was the pointer (not the shooter!) for the Thai team throughout the tournament. Phusa-Ad also won a bronze medal, for third-place Thailand (eliminated by Belgium 2 in the semi-finals).
Our Canadian friend, Thomas Pouplot, took the bronze shooting medal, marking the first time a North American has won a medal at the World Championships. The two favorites, Philippe Suchaud (France 1) and Claudy Weibel (Belgium 2), were eliminated in the first and second rounds respectively. Ti, Team USA’s shooter, survived the first round, but not the second. For photos of the Shooting Competition.
The Photographer’s Other Favorites
This selection includes a series from the round 1 match between France 2 and Italy, which France barely won, the semi-final game between the two French teams, a couple from the final and varied action shots from around the arena. For Martha’s Other Favorites. (Most of the final was captured on film, and some of these will be transferred to digital later.)
We end with a series featuring one of the greatest all-around players in the world (and my personal favorite): Michel Loy. Although Christian Fazzino, Philippe Quintais, Claudy Weibel, and Marco Foyot have their supporters, many people think Loy is the best middle in the game. He is an extraordinary shooter under pressure. In Brussels, Loy pointed for the defending champions, France 2. Loy’s pointing is truly spectacular: no other player on earth launches the ball as high (often 45 feet), with as much perfectly controlled spin (left, right, and neutral) and placement (usually less than a foot in front of the bouchon). Even at the World Championships, players stop what they are doing, in utter amazement, to watch him point. For Michel Loy Pointing.