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Stéphane Antiga

After an historic third-place finish at the World Championship in Argentina last year, France's hopes of a repeat performance rest on the shoulders of Stéphane Antiga.

A player capable of driving home missile-like spikes to leave the opposition flatfooted and helpless, Antiga, who often joins teammates on the court with brightly colored hair, is widely
recognized as one of the great talents of the French lineup. 

Indeed there is little doubt that this 2m universal player, who can be as devastating mounting the defense as in attack, is a crucial component in an exciting French side. 

Although Antigua readily admits his serve is his weak spot it is compensated by his passion for blocking. "First of all it is all about placement. Then it's about reflexes and trying to keep contact to a minimum. I love the ball, I liken myself to being a goalkeeper. The No 1 goal is just to touch the ball and prevent it from going into our court. But when it comes to blocking one doesn't think about it, it's just second nature."

If the rest of his game is up to scratch it will go a long way to erasing the memory of France's performance in last year's World League, which he ranks as the worst moment of his illustrious career.

He was one of the French musketeers who marched into the 2002 World League finals after winning their qualifying pool with nine wins from 12 games only to limp home after being demolished by all of their opponents in the final round. The French boarded their flight without a set to their credit, but fortunately for the French fans they quickly regrouped in time for the 2002 World Championship where order was restored. Indeed in Argentina the French gave their best ever performance and wound up the tournament by humbling the Olympic champions Yugoslavia in the playoff for bronze. 

The 27-year-old was chosen as the wing spiker in the "Super Seven Selection" and was also awarded the second Best Digger of the tournament and is sure to be in the calculations again for the player awards during this year's World League. 

Antiga played in the starting six with his elite club Paris Volley in March when they finished fourth in the finals of the Indesit European Champions League in Milan. He has has been selected 126 times for the national squad since his debut in 1996 and this year will be his fifth World League appearance.