In a thrilling final, Sweden defeated France 1127-1104 to win the gold medal in the EMC 2023 Team competition.
A lengthy bowling session at Cristal Bowling in Wittelsheim, France, was filled with standout performances by the Sweden National Team.
In the qualification, Sweden broke European Men's Team of Five six-game record by 128 pins with 6943 total (231.4 avg.) to capture the No. 1 seed in the semifinals.
As if that were not enough, Team Sweden put together 1302 pins (260.4 avg.), including a perfect game from James Blomgren, in the Team event semifinals to overcome the Netherlands 1302-1133 and shatter the 18-year-old European Team of Five record for the most pins in a single game.
Unfortunately, easy strikes stopped at the most unpleasant time.
Unlike the semifinals, the final match was not just a walk in the park for the Swedes. France - hosters of the EMC 2023 - who defeated Greece in the Team event semifinals 1153-1024, was a tough nut to crack.
The final match was going in favor of the home team most of the time, but France lacked the cool nerves to take advantage. When his team needed it most, Jesper Svensson transformed into 'The Ice Man'. Jesper scored 299 to make up for some errors made by his teammates during the match and secured the victory by 23 pins even though he-self had some trouble making lane and ball adjustments during EMC.
'He was very important', Sweden National Team coach Robert Anderson said to 'BowlingLife' after the final match when asked how crucial was Svensson's steady game in a decisive moment. 'During the semifinal and final, it was only Pontus who had good luck in both matches. In the semifinal, all players except Jesper bowled really high scores for breaking the one-game record. After the game, Jesper said 'Sorry for not pulling my weight, I am saving mine for the final', then 299 to make it possible to win. Super important.'
Swedish bowling commentator and analyst Magnus Johnson amusingly asserted on his social media that the Swedish Bowling Association would only need to hand over half of the gold it has accumulated over the years if the Riksbank (Sweden's central bank) ever needed gold to save the economy.
The root cause for Sweden's success in this year's European Men Championships is James Blomgren. 35-year-old bowler took individual gold in All-Event setting the new European Men's All-Event 24-games record with 5752 pins (239.7 avg.) and is the only player in the championship who won a medal in each event.
Robert Andersson, head coach of Sweden's national team, expressed his happiness in having such a player in his deck of cards.
'James and Jesper are two of the best players in the world. They are really good at repeating shots and figuring out how to get the right ball reaction. When they find what they are looking for, they just keep striking. This time James found it faster than Jesper.'
Gold medal - James Blomgren, Pontus Andersson, Jesper Svensson, Markus Jansson, Mattias Wetterberg, Martin Larsen (Sweden)
Silver medal - Maxime Dubois, Hugo Bonnefoy, Keny Billaut, Valentin Saulnier, Gaetan Mouveroux, Enzo Franco (France)
Bronze medal - Nick De Gelder, Michell Stinissen, Mark Jacobs, Jord Van Weeren, Mike Bergmann, Jeffrey Van De Wakker (Netherlands)
Bronze medal - Anastasios Exarchou, Nikolaos Kagialoglou, Georgios Stefanidis, Ioannis Xydas, Evangelos Krizinis, Nikolaos Serelis (Greece)
Championship activities will end in the Masters event tomorrow, where only the top 24 bowlers of the event after the 24-game qualification will participate.
Twelve best European countries at the European Men Championships will acquire a spot in the World Bowling Championships in Kuwait.