Local table tennis athlete Bob Janes returned to Juneau recently with his luggage a little heavier than when he departed for competition at the Nevada Senior Games and the Huntsman World Senior Games recently.
Gold medals do that to you.
“Most of the participants appreciate the fact that they feel blessed with good health by God,” Janes said of his table tennis trip. “And they appreciate the fact that they can participate in their advancing years.”
Athletes in the Nevada and World Senior Games must be 50-years or older. Several of the participants in the table tennis, or ping-pong, competitions were over 90.
“Table tennis is a pretty active sport so it would tend to improve your health or at least keep it at a better level as you get older. You have to move around a lot to get the ball.”
Janes moved just enough among the 135 table tennis players at the Nevada Senior Games on Oct. 5-6, garnishing a gold medal in Mixed Doubles with Fairbanks’ Diann Darnall.
Janes also took a bronze medal in the Men’s Singles 65-69 age group and a bronze in the Men’s Doubles with Eagle River’s Andy Hutzel.
“Not only is there strong competition but the heat takes some getting used to,” Janes said of both tournaments warm climates. “I tried to drink a lot of fluids.”
Other medals included Darnall’s golds in Women’s Singles and Women’s Doubles with Fairbanks’ Jane Parrish; Eagle River’s Dave DeMay taking bronze in Men’s Singles B55-59 age; Hutzel’s silver medal with Joanne Tressler of Ohio in Mixed Doubles 60-65 age.
Janes then found himself among 10,000 athletes in 27 events at the 26th Annual Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, Utah. The game’s focus is on peace, health, and friendship.
“It is the largest senior games in the United States,” Janes said. “It is just incredible to be around so many athletes you can relate to.”
Over 200 athletes competed in the table tennis portion on Oct. 8-11.
Janes and Darnall again took gold, this time beating Champlain, Illinois’ Phyllis Hughes and Barbados’ Charles Lovell in Mixed Doubles age 60-65.
Janes added a bronze in the Men’s Doubles age 60-65 with Hutzel.
Other Alaska ping pong medals included Darnall and Parrish winning gold in Women’s Doubles; Parrish a sliver in Women’s Singles age 65-69; Darnall a silver in 60-65; Eagle River’s Todd Woodhouse and Anchorage’s Karl Augestad a 4th in Men’s Doubles age 50-54; Augestad a bronze in Men’s Singles 50-54; DeMay and Vancouver’s Richard Chang a bronze in Men’s Doubles over Fairbank’s Rick Robertson and St. George’s Sanjoy Bhattacharya; Robertson’s bronze in the 1,200-1,399 rating category; Hutzel’s silvers in the 1,600-1,799 and 1,800-1,999 divisions.
“This sport is really fun and exciting,” Janes said. “Several of us older players in Juneau have worked and practiced with students that want to participate in the Arctic Winter Games.”
Table tennis is one of the sports available to grade school, middle school and high school athletes in the Arctic Winter Games every two years in March.
Local youth will need to compete in a tournament in Anchorage that determines the top two participants in both age categories for both the girls and boys on Team Alaska who will play singles, doubles and overall team events.
The next Arctic Winter Games is March 2014 in Fairbanks.
“Table tennis will have heavy involvement from the Fairbanks Table tennis Club (FITT),” Janes said. “They play three times a week at UAF Patty Gym. We will probably be contacting the high schools in town to see if any students want to try out for the Alaska team.”
Janes said he had been contacted by Juneau-Douglas for instruction in past years and would like to extend that opportunity to Thunder Mountain as well.
“There are a number of us adults who play a lot of doubles in Juneau,” Janes said. “Which is probably why we are so competitive down south. We have a lot of good ping pong players in our community that would love to share that sport with the youth here.”
The 2014 Arctic Winter Games will be held March 15-22 and involve over 2,000 athletes, coaches, mission staff members and cultural members from Greenland, Russia, Sweden and Canada’s Alberta, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik, Quebec and Yukon. Athletes will participate in 20 sporting competitions.
Venues will include: Birch Hill Recreation Area for cross country skiing, ski biathlon, snowshoe biathlon and snowshoe; Carlson Center for figure skating and speed skating; Randy Smith Track for snowshoe; Ryan Middle School for Dene Games and pole push; Lathrop for Dene Games snow snake; Fairbanks Curling Club for curling; For Wainwright Birch Hill ski Area for snowboarding; and Hutchison High School for table tennis. For more information, or if interested in competing, contact Ken Larimore (Chef-de-Mission) of Team Alaska at 907-474-4278 or www.teamalaska.org.