Rackets at the ready for veterans
Come Monday the Trusts Arena in Henderson will be swarming with more than 1500 table tennis players from all over the world.
Among the players at the STAG World Veteran Table Tennis Championships will be New Zealand legends Barry Griffiths and Sarah Sandley.
Griffiths, 50, an eight-time New Zealand champion who represented New Zealand at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, has come out of retirement to give the tournament a go.
‘‘It’s going to be tough,’’ the Onehunga resident says.
‘‘You need to have your shots very well grooved to handle the pace of some of the shots.’’
He started playing the game when he was 11 years old and played at the highest level through to age 28.
‘‘We had a street full of sporty kids and in our situation we had the only table so all the kids came to our place,’’ he says.
‘‘I got to practise all the time and just got better and better.’’
Griffiths was inducted into the New Zealand Table Tennis hall of fame in 2009.
Fellow national champion Sandley is looking forward to seeing Griffiths play competitively again.
‘‘From my point of view and a lot of other players, to have Barry playing in this tournament is pretty special because everybody from our era knows and respects him,’’ she says.
The Auckland City resident is no amateur when it comes to table tennis. She has repres- ented both England and New Zealand at the highest level and last year, after taking the game back up, won the Australian Veterans Table Tennis Championship.
‘‘At 14 I went and watched an England Open Championship and I was stunned by the poetry of the game, there was a really beautiful rhythm,’’ she says.
Sandley says that people in New Zealand aren’t often exposed to table tennis being played at this level and it’s quite a different game than people imagine.
The tournament is split into different age categories and will feature men and women playing singles as well as doubles.
There will be more than 6000 matches played during the week and both Griffiths and Sandley say spectators will be in for a treat.
Sandley says people will be amazed at the athleticism of players.
‘‘There are a lot of physical demands on players and the intricacies of the game like spin will be great to watch,’’ she says.
Great effort: St Cuthberts’ students took on the ITU World Triathlon Super Sprint and had some great results. Four students did particularly well. From left, Megan Greensmith placed second, Kendall Vaughan placed first, Emily Hacket Pain10th and Emily Mellsop 20th.
Two legends: Sarah Sandley and Barry Griffiths are excited about the STAG World Veteran Table Tennis Championships.
Go to centralleader.co.nz to see a video of Sarah Sandley at the Australian Veteran Championships.