Still light­ning fast

Auckland City Harbour News - - SPORT - By ALAS­TAIR LYNN

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.