82 year old Harry Dye may well be one of New Zealand’s oldest competitive table tennis players and he was also the most successful recently, taking out the men’s doubles silver medal in the 80 – 84 age group at the World Veteran Table Tennis championships.
Mr Dye who has been playing for 63 years teamed with Australian Geoffrey Nesbitt to take out the silver. His son Craig, reached the consolation final in the 40 – 49 year age group. Mr Dye senior wasn’t the oldest New Zealand player however; shading him by ten years was 92 year old Betty Thompson of Levin, who has been playing table tennis for 75 years!
Auckland Sports CEO, Dr Sarah Sandley, a former New Zealand representative, was one of the semi-finalists, having taken up the game again after a break of 23 years.
The mammoth event for 1,665 players from 59 countries was hosted at The Trusts Arena from 10 through 17 May.
The 1,665 entrants, who included former World Champion Peter Karlsson, were divided across seven different age groups, with the youngest being 40 – 49 and the oldest age group being 85 and older. Taking advantage of being “at home”, 144 New Zealanders entered, with seven of them making the quarter finals or higher.
The largest team was from Japan with 371 players who took home 48 medals in total, well ahead of any other country. The arena was a breathtaking sight even when it was empty, with 61 blue tables set on a red floor and separated from each other by black partitions.