Golds For Germany, Belarus, Finland & Serbia

The 2021 European Pool Championships wrapped up after 11 glorious days of sport at the Venezia Palace Hotel in Antalya, Turkey. 9-ball was the final discipline as four divisions played out and there was plenty of drama, most of it centring on the men’s division as Joshua Filler took the gold in an extraordinary finale.

Margarita Fefilova took women’s gold to add to her silver and bronze medals while Finnish wheelchair legend Jouni Tahti finally got his hands on a trophy after two near-misses this year. In the men’s Under23 tournament, Serbian Aleksa Pecelj won gold to confirm his potential in the game.

There were 97 players competing in the Men’s division, and it was a stacked field with the best in Europe fighting it out for the final gold. Joshua Filler found himself on the one-loss side but came through with his normal relaxed style. He squeezed past Niels Feijen in a decider in the quarter-finals before relegating Poland’s Sebastian Batkowski to a bronze medal in the semi.

His final opponent, Sanjin Pehlivanovic of Bosnia Herzegovina, made the quarter-finals with a string of comfortable wins before beating seasoned Spaniard Francisco Diaz-Pizarro 9-4 to meet Pijus Labutis in the last four. He overcame the Lithuanian to give himself a great shot at the title.

Pehlivanovic dominated the scoring, leading 4-1 in the early stages. Filler got back to level terms at 4-4 before his opponent then kept a one rack lead with his break. With the Bosnian on the hill at 8-7, Filler was running out to tie it up but found himself in an awkward position with three balls left on the table.

Shooting the 7 ball with the 9-ball blocking his path up table to the black 8, Filler made the pot and left himself a long but fine cut on the 8 ball but made a mess of it and left the 8 available for his opponent.

Pehlivanovic took some time and let out a ‘whoop’ and fist pumped as the 8 fell, leaving himself with an elementary 9 ball into the corner pocket for the championship. Incredibly he missed it leaving Filler to knock it in to draw level. The German ‘whooped’ himself when he sat back in his chair, possibly referencing his opponent’s premature celebration but the players shook hands as the deciding rack commenced.

There was more disaster for Pehlivanovic as his well-struck break shot saw the 3-ball into the corner pocket but only one ball made it past the headstring as he fell foul of the three-point rule, returning the table to Filler.

It wasn’t the easiest of lay-outs but the highly-decorated German ran out to take the lead for the first time in the match and seal his second European championship gold.

Filler was understandably shocked at the ending after the match; “I feel amazing! I lost two times before in the 9-ball final already and this third time I was meant to lose as well, but he missed a quite easy 9 and celebrated before and then made an illegal break at 8-8 and I could run it out. On the one hand, I already knew I’d lost and on the other hand I was holding the trophy. Crazy!

“Every match in the whole tournament I think I was down but I just kept fighting and I knew I didn’t want to give up. I knew if I got to the final, I would qualify for the World Games next year and that was my goal. I was just giving everything to win this tournament and it paid off luckily!”

Medals – Men

Gold –          Joshua Filler (GER)
Silver –        Sanjin Pehlivanovic (BIH)
Bronze –        Sebastian Batkowski (POL)
Pijus Labutis (LIT)

Margarita Fefilova capped a tremendous visit to the 2021 European Championship as she won the final gold in the 9-ball division to add to the silver and bronze won in 8 ball and 10 ball respectively. The Belarusian closed her championship out with a 7-3 win over Germany’s Veronika Ivanovskaia for the gold medal.

For the 24 year-old rising star from Minsk, Belarus it was her first ever EC gold and most likely to be the first of many. Her victory wasn’t without its set-backs as she was relegated to the one-loss side early on following a 7-5 defeat at the hands of Kristina Tkach (Russia) in her second match of the tournament. She fought through to the quarter-finals where she defeated Tina Vogelmann (Germany) 7-2 before beating her compatriot Melanie Sussenguth by the same scoreline.

Her opponent in the final, Veronika Ivanovskaia, an EC 8 ball gold medallist in 2018, beat Dutch star Tamara Rademakers to make the round of 16 and then victories over Louis Furberg (Sweden) and Ina Kaplan got her in the medals.

A potentially tough match against 10 ball champion Eyllul Kibaroglu was well negotiated before an in-form Fefilova put paid to her gold medal hopes.

Commented Fefilova, “To be honest I still can’t believe it. It feels unreal! I’ve been working so hard for this and coming to the tournament I didn’t feel confident at all. Then in the 10-ball and 8-ball I got third and then second and then everyone was joking around saying now you have to come first in the 9-ball.

“I built confidence and peaked my game at the semi-finals and final at exactly the moment I needed it. It’s very tough because in this tournament you’ve got to have it all. Good run-outs, confidence, a little bit of luck and everything goes against you sometimes even when you’re so prepared.  I’m happy that finally the hard work paid off and it’s really special.”

Fefilova also booked her spot at next year’s World Games taking place at Birmingham, Alabama. USA.

Medals – Ladies

Gold –          Margareta Fefilova (BLR)
Silver –        Veronika Ivanovskaia (GER
Bronze –        Eyllul Kibaroglu (TUR)
Melanie Sussenguth (GER)

It was gold at last for Finland’s Jouni Tahti, 53, as he recovered from two final defeats to bounce back and claim the title in the final discipline of the championship. It’s fair to say that the veteran Finn has been the dominant force in wheelchair pool over the past 20 years and this was his incredible 27th gold medal at the European Championships.

With his nemesis this week, Henrik Larsson, eliminated earlier in the proceedings, Tahti was on song throughout, only dropping five racks on his way to the final. His opponent in the championship match was Slovenia’s Matej Brajkovic, who in contrast to Tahti, was in his first ever final.

He gave it a go and was well-placed in the closing stages but Tahti, drawing on his wealth of experience pulled away for a terrific 7-5 win.

Tahti said, “I’m running out of room in the house for trophies, they’re in every room! My goal now is to train very hard and try and get three gold medals next year in Slovenia but I really want to be there and competing at the 2023 European Championships in Tampere in my home country”

Medals – Wheelchair

Gold –          Jouni Tahti (FIN);
Silver –        Matej Brajkovic (SLO)
Bronze –        Kim-Ronny Nygard (NOR)
David Slacek (SLO)

Young Serbian Aleksa Pecelj ended a fabulous stay in Turkey as he closed out the championships with the gold medal in the Men’s Under 23 division. He defeated Turkish Cypriot Osman Sanlisoy 9-4 in the championship match. Earlier he had claimed bronze in the 8-ball division and prior to that, had come from nowhere to take runner-up spot on the Euro Tour in the same venue two weeks ago.

There were 20 players competing at the end of a long, hard week but it was Pecelj who had the energy and will to see it home and win Serbia’s first ever European Championship gold medal.

Turkish Northern Cyprus took another medal, this time silver in the shape of Sanlisoy and it will be interesting to see if they can build on these successes in future years.

Pecelj was ecstatic post-match; “Im thrilled, to be honest. I was playing at a high level the whole tournament. I played the Euro Tour final and didn’t manage to win it. Then I was fighting back, losing all the time, making comebacks and finally at the end I got a trophy so I’m really happy about it.

“The young players here are all very hungry so I think the established players need a lot of motivation and if you lose focus and concentration for just a second, the young guys are there chasing you like lions.

“This is the first gold medal for Serbia in the history of European Championships and I’m very happy to be the first one. There will be a big celebration when I get home starting at the airport!”

Medals – Men’s U23

Gold –          Aleksa Pecelj (SRB)
Silver –        Osman Sanlisoy (TNC)
Bronze –        Mark Magi (EST)
Jere Virtaranta (FIN)

All the matches can be viewed live at

Results, live scoring and draw are available at