Still lightning fast
Table Tennis New Zealand hall-of-famer Alan Tomlinson has played all over the world but it is on his home turf he feels his strongest.
With four singles and 10 doubles national titles under his belt it is hard to imagine anyone better suited to wear the silver fern at the 2017 Auckland World Masters games.
‘‘I love the chance to have some international competition on my home ground,’’ the Herne Bay resident says.
‘‘I’ll certainly be pretty chuffed if I can win the thing. I’ll just give it my best shot.’’
Tomlinson began playing table tennis when he was 16 and burst onto the scene in 1959 taking the New Zealand singles title from seven-time reigning champion Bob Jackson.
‘‘He’s a famous croquet player now, he’s still one of the best in New Zealand,’’ he says.
‘‘That was the first of the big wins and it just carried on from there.’’
Tomlinson plans to pick up his game by training every week. With the World Masters Games still two years away there is plenty of time to recapture the form that shot him to the top of New Zealand table tennis.
But taking a more leisurely approach has not dulled the 81-year-old’s reflexes.
‘‘One of the reasons
for staying with table tennis is that it’s so good for your flexibility and reflexes.
‘‘It’s a very fast game. You don’t run long distances but you do have to be very quick in that confined area.’’
Multiple appearances at World, Commonwealth and World Veteran championships have followed for the master of the ball and paddle, but it is the bond of international competing Tomlinson says he treasures most.
‘‘I’ve enjoyed camaraderie when I’ve played overseas. It is quite an experience mingling with such large diverse groups of people. In some cases you can become quite good friends, it’s very much a worldwide game, table tennis.’’
Tomlinson has enjoyed a spectacular career spanning 65 years.
While he admits he has taken some significant breaks from the sport, table tennis will always be an integral part of his life.
‘‘I’ve been in the game for a long time and being quite successful in it, it gives me an affinity with the game that I’ll never lose.’’
Table tennis master Alan Tomlinson is ready to hit hard at the 2017 Auckland World Masters Games.
Alan Tomlinson with doubles partner Bryan Foster at the World Veteran Table Tennis Championships in 2014.