WONTHAGGI’S proud success in the sport of table tennis continued recently, when three Wonthaggi Table Tennis Association members won gold medals at the Australian Veteran Table Tennis Championships in Sydney.
Cowes’ Mick Wright and Michael Ede, and Inverloch’s Case de Bondt won 13 medals at the championships at Olympic Park, with Wright leading the way with five gold, a silver and a bronze from seven events.
Case won two gold medals and the prestigious Ken Cole Trophy for Australian Veteran Player of the Year.
The trio were also recipients of Order of Merit Awards for top players in their age groups.
Wright has been playing table tennis for 65 years, and although the participant numbers have declined since he started, he still has the same passion for the sport.
“You go back to when I learnt table tennis in Wonthaggi as an eight year old and now I’m 73,” he said.
“It was a giant sport in Wonthaggi but other sports takeover like everything else.
“It’s just something where I suppose you’re given a gift to play and I’ve played continuously since I was an eight year-old.
“I learnt off Nancy Pattinson’s father, Barney Oakley, who had a shed in his backyard and every Sunday all the kids in Wonthaggi would line up for a hit. That’s how I started.”
About 400 players represented all states of Australia with other teams from New Zealand and China.
Wright spoke highly of Wonthaggi’s success at the tournament.
“Eight gold medals for a little town like Wonthaggi is phenomenal in the world of table tennis,” he said.
Wonthaggi Table Tennis Association committee member Nancy Pattinson commended the players’ efforts.
“Considering Case is now over 80, Michael is over 70 and Mick is over 70, to see them still playing table tennis on the world stage is incredible,” she said.
“They’re very motivated but they’re also very talented and health wise it’s quite amazing they can play world standard table tennis at their age.”
Wright will now head off to the veterans championships in Albury in November, and will jet off to Italy next year, playing between the Almalfi Coast and Tuscany for six months.
Wonthaggi’s table tennis heroes