Betty's still a tough nut to crack at age 91

By Zac Yates

EVER PLAYED table tennis and switched off it for a long time?

Well, don't make your comeback against 91-year-old Levin woman Betty Thompson.

With eyes so sharp she has now given up glasses after a cataract operation, and whip forehand that blazes through, she is still a tough nut to crack.

Unfortunately for her, she had to step down a couple of classes - that's because there aren't too many 90-year-olds who bounce around behind a table tennis table, bat in hand.

Betty, remarkably, won a New Zealand mixed doubles title in 1947! That's 65 years ago. What were you doing 65 years ago? She's represented South Canterbury, and still remembers a battle she and a partner had against the then British world champions Rosalind and Diane Rowe.

They who won the world doubles table tennis title together in 1945 and 1951 and were making an exhibition tour of New Zealand around 1954.

"I had good game against them, they told us we did well," said Betty yesterday.

She's been to most of the Wanganui Masters - can't remember how many - but she's clearly respected by others in the 65-plus competition at these Games.

Top effortsShe's just the top of the iceberg. There have been some remarkable characters here.

How's this for size?

Seventy-one-year-old Queayanbean (Canberra) man Robin Whyte was fourth man across the line in the men's half marathon walk. He walked across and said: "One event to go, I'm off to throw the hammer now."

The walk was his 16th event.

Wanganui walker Damien Wood had set himself an 11am finishing time for the walk because he needed to get to Cooks Gardens to run an 800 metres.

And 63-year-old half marathon walk winner Peter Zwart - he had already won three events this week - gobbled down some nutrition as soon as he hit the line, changed shoes, and was away on another half-marathon's training for the Taranaki Mountain-to-Surf.

He had not, he said, done enough training.

One official remembered the late Palmerston North walker Jack Tregath who, after winning a Wanganui Masters medal a few years ago, bade everyone goodbye and walked home - to Palmerston North.

That's what a Master Games is made of.

All-in, these Games finally netted 5314 entrants, with Wanganui around 30 down at 2047.

Somewhere in the region of 6000 medals were available to be won.

Everything seemed to tick over pretty well, and the village virtually ran out of social liquid on Saturday night - and food as well.

Games boss Mike Cronin says the drop in numbers will be the subject of some investigation, but was generally happy with the 2013 version of the Games.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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