By Ted Lerner ,Photos courtesy Vinod DivaKaran,Doha Stadium Sports Weekly
IN A LEGENDARY EPIC THRILLER, DARREN “DYNAMITE” APPLETON WINS THE WORLD 9-BALL CHAMPIONSHIP WITH A 13-12 VICTORY OVER LEE HE WEN
(Doha, Qatar)–In one of the most thrilling and surreal finals ever witnessed in pool history, England’s Darren Appleton won the 2012 World 9-ball Championship, barely beating China’s Lee He Wen, 13-12 in front of hundreds of stunned fans inside Doha’s Al Sadd Sports Club.
It was a match that had everything that the sport of pool could possibly offer; fantastic, clutch shot making, an unbelievably impossible comeback, edge of your seat drama that was downright unbearable, and a finish that blew the roof off the house.
For Appleton, the win is his first World 9-ball Championship and is the culmination of a dream he has held since turning to pool from English 8-ball in the mid-2000’s. With his World 10-ball crown in 2009, his double US Opens in 2010 and 2011, and now the World 9-ball Championship, Appleton can certainly lay claim to be one of the greats of all time.
For Lee, he came within a whisker of nearly pulling off a comeback for the ages, and at the same time, earned for himself the admiration of legions of pool fans around the world who were in awe at the 31 year old’s tenacity and never-say-die spirit.
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Easily one of the best stories to come out of this year’s World 9-ball Championship is the marked improvement of players from the Middle East, especially Kuwait.
The four players notably are
- Omar Al Shaheen
- Khaled Al Mutairi
- Bader Al Awadi
- Majid Al Alzmi
The four Kuwaiti players in the knockout stage marks the first time ever Kuwait has had any player reach the round of 64 in a World 9-ball Championship.
Kuwait’s Omar Al Shaheen reached the Final 16 round where he was beaten by China’s Lee He Wen
So how did Kuwait start to produce such good pool talent?
According to team manager Mohammed Al-Sulaiman, billiard sports are massively supported by the government in Kuwait. All the team members keep regular jobs working in some government ministry but train regularly and enter plenty of local, regional and international events. Four Kuwaitis even traveled to the US last year to compete in the prestigious US Open. Kuwait has won Arab and Gulf championships and taken home a slew of medals at regional Olympic-type competitions.
“Other pool players know who we are and that we are good players,“ Al Mutrairi said. “But people and fans outside of Kuwait don’t know that we can play.”
They certainly do now