James Morris addresses those present for the launch of the ITTF Veteran World Tour (Photo: Leon Libin)
by Ian Marshall, Editor
Immense growth, in the Swedish city of Gothenburg in 1982, approaching 400 players competed in the first ever World Veteran Championships. Now, for the current edition, which commenced in Las Vegas on Monday 18th June, the total is some 4,000 players, 300 tables in use.
Interest high and soon ever higher; supported by the Monday Club and very much the initiative of Frank Ji, Special Adviser to Thomas Weikert, ITTF President, the ITTF World Veteran Tour will commence in 2019.
Already the demand for organised tournaments for veteran players is on high; there are several on the calendar which are well established; rather different to other events, nostalgia and friendship are high on the agenda but make no mistake, the element of competition is present. Most important entries are impressive.
Competition, goodwill, friendship and nostalgia are evident but may I suggest a further element that is attractive.
Look at the roll of honour at any international veteran tournament, the names of the players who are gaining podium places are not necessarily those who gained high honours in younger years. Veteran tournaments afford medal opportunities for players who never dreamed of gaining international honours; they say “life begins at forty”, the proposed ITTF World Veteran Tour endorses that theory.
“It is an honour to announce the concept for the World Veteran Tour on behalf of the ITTF. This is a concept that will allow all the global veteran players to play in more high level events and to be able to see their friends more often. Thank you to Frank Ji for being the visionary and making this happen.” James Morris, ITTF Executive Vice President
Also, there is the opportunity for the artisan to play against an adversary of renown and as the years pass by on increasing even terms. Age is a great leveller; memories of competing against a once World champion are special.
The ITTF World Veteran Tour combines and promotes all elements that are to be found at the current tournament in Las Vegas and will it not only increase the number veteran players competing in international events? Will it not persuade those of international note to extend their careers that few years further?
New Zealand’s James Morris is the ITTF Executive Vice President responsible for the initiative. A list of tournament will be announced in due course and a central website will be published where players may register.