by Anton Lehman
On Sunday 6th March, Elmira Antonyan won the women’s singles title at the 2022 Swiss National Championships; in so doing she became the oldest ever winner in the history of tournament which dates back to 1932.
Elmira hails from Armenia, she started playing table tennis at the age of nine. She followed a rigorous training programme; achieved top spot in each national age group category, becoming an established member of the Soviet Union team when 18 years old.
At the 1975 World Championships in Kolkata, she won women’s doubles bronze partnering Tatiana Ferdman, mixed doubles silver in harness with Sarkis Sarkhojan.
Notably, on the women’s world rankings, she reach no.4 n Europe, no.9 in the world.
After the seemingly the end of her career in 1984, she remained involved in table tennis. Successfully, she coached the Armenia women’s team, nominating herself as a player following the 1991 political change.
“I continued to be infected by competition fever.” Elmira Antonyan
From 1996, she worked for seven years as a player-coach for a South Tyrolean factory team in Bolzano before moving in 2003 to Switzerland; where the year before, she had met her future husband Arthur Brunner at the World Veteran Championships in Lucerne.
Until 2013, she was in charge of the Swiss training centre; at TTC Wetzikon, now she helps junior players as well as in the men’s first team.
At this year’s Swiss Championships, the request from Thierry Miller to play doubles awakened ambtion.
“At my age, I don’t like to be stressed, but I wanted to grab the chance; it’s okay to want to win, right?” Elmira Antonyan
Notably, Rachel Moret, a player who Elmira describes as “out of reach” did not defend her title, World Table Tennis commitments taking precedence.
In the final Elmira beat 28-year-old Alexandra Tchalakian; in the mixed doubles they were beaten at the semi-final stage by Elias Hardmeier and Céline Reust, the champions elect.
Two steps higher next year? According to Thierry Miller, planning has started.