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  • Comments: 0
  • 12 October 2015 00:00
  • in Community
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Never too old for ping pong gold!

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More than 100 participants over the age of 65 took part this weekend in the county’s second annual Ping Pong tournament for older people in Eastleigh hosted by Hampshire County Council’s Older People’s Wellbeing Team.

On Saturday 3 October the participants and their supporters gathered at Fleming Park Leisure Centre in this unique event which saw individuals and teams pitch their table tennis skills against each other in a fiercely fought contest! Two extra ping pong tables had to be added this year to accommodate players for this over subscribed competition.

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care, who played a game of table tennis with Mayor of Eastleigh, Councillor Jane Welsh, and awarded prizes, said: "It was fantastic to see this event so well supported. Table Tennis is an activity that anyone can take part in and last year’s event has clearly inspired more older people than ever before to have a go. Those who get involved in social and physical activities benefit from improved physical and emotional wellbeing - all of which help people to continue to live independently.  My congratulations to all the winners and to everyone who took part – they set an inspirational example to us all.” 

The oldest player, 95 year old Mrs Rita Tanner from the New Forest, competing for the second time, said: "It’s just fun and I enjoy playing. I first played table tennis when I was a teenager for a couple of years, and I picked it up again about 20 years ago at the Nifty Fifties club at Gangwarily in Fawley. I go there every week and I enjoy the social side.” 

The tournament was supported by volunteers, many of whom were Hampshire Game Makers during the 2012 Olympics.

The tournament winners were: 
Women’s over 65s – Jill Clarke, from Gosport. She said: "I was very surprised to win! I didn’t know what to expect, but I am very happy. This is the first tournament I have ever been in. Table tennis is a game for all ages.”

Men’s over 65s – Roger Barnacle, from Odiham, who after his win, thanked the event organisers on behalf of all the players. He added: "I just play table tennis with my son in the garage.”

Women’s over 75s – Beryl Baptist from Emsworth. This is the second win in a row for Beryl who won her category last year. She said playing table tennis has helped her to get over the loss of her husband who died last year: "I was a good player when I was younger and my husband and I picked table tennis up again about 20 years ago and we really enjoyed it. I have kept table tennis up because it has been lovely for me to play and helped me to have all my friends around me.”

Men’s over 75s – Peter Williams, from Cheriton, near Winchester. He said: "I don’t belong to any table tennis club. This is the first time I have played table tennis in 25 years. I came as a lift to a couple of ladies who are beginners and I thought if I was going to stay I might as well sign up to play.”

Colin French from Waterside Table Tennis Club helped to organise the special event. Colin is Chairman and Development Officer for Waterside Table Tennis Club, which was named the second best table tennis club in England by Table Tennis England. Table Tennis England also made Colin ‘Volunteer of the Year 2015’.
He said: "Last year was such a fantastic event. It was so wonderful to see all those people of all ages playing and enjoying it so I could not say no to helping organise it again. Table tennis is a very social game. There is a certain amount of fitness required but you can play at all levels, even if you have mobility problems.”

To find out more about ping pong clubs and activities organised by the County Council’s Older People’s Wellbeing Team specifically for the over 65s visit www.hants.gov.uk/ping-pong 

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