Norfolk table tennis octogenarians are staying young at heart

The four octogenarians playing table tennis in the Norwich and District league, from left, Eric Ande

The four octogenarians playing table tennis in the Norwich and District league, from left, Eric Anderton, 80; Mary Sawyer, 80; Dennis Calver, 80; and Reg Juett, 87. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2013

Experience can save you a whole lot of running in a table tennis match, as the four octogenarians of the Norwich and District Table Tennis League are still proving on a regular basis.

The four octogenarians playing table tennis in the Norwich and District league, from left, Eric Ande

The four octogenarians playing table tennis in the Norwich and District league, from left, Eric Anderton, 80; Mary Sawyer, 80; Dennis Calver, 80; and Reg Juett, 87. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2013

The quartet have combined playing experience of over 250 years and still take great joy in using their skills to give younger players the runaround.

The four octogenarians playing table tennis in the Norwich and District league, from left, Reg Juett

The four octogenarians playing table tennis in the Norwich and District league, from left, Reg Juett, 87; Eric Anderton, 80; Mary Sawyer, 80; and Dennis Calver, 80. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2013

'They all want to hit the ball as hard as they can, but we like to slow them down,' said 80-year-old Dennis Calver, the league's co-ordinator.

'But it's always been the same, I remember playing an 80-year-old when I was younger and was thinking it was going to be easy, but by the time your finished, you're running around more than them!'

The league's four octogenarians are proof of the mental and physical benefits of people staying active into their later years, with all still possessing a wicked flick of the wrist to send their opponents sprawling.


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Mr Calver, along with his wife Margaret, is one of the founder members of Taverham Table Tennis Club, which plays its games at Taverham Village Hall.

He is also been an umpire since 1980 and an international umpire since 1990, which has seen him officiate around Europe and at world championships.

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'You can play the game anywhere and be of any age,' Mr Calver said. 'I don't play as much as I used to now but I can still play perfectly all-right, although I don't win as many as I used to!'

The elder statesman of the quartet is 87-year-old Reg Juett, the president of Taverham Table Tennis Club.

Mr Juett does not play as much as he used to but is still playing doubles matches. He said: 'I started playing in 1940, when I first went to work, so I've only got the 73 years experience.

'It's been something to do since my wife died 15 years ago but I just like the game I suppose.'

Mary Sawyer, from Spixworth club Missionaries, is still taking her table tennis very seriously though.

The 80-year-old, from North Walsham, first started playing the game when she was 15 and has represented England at veterans level eight times since his first appearance at the age of 70, playing in countries including Turkey, Germany, Holland and Bulgaria.

Mary said: 'I just love the game so much, meeting people is lovely and playing for England has been wonderful. It keeps you going and I just love it.

'I don't move like I used to because I have two artificial knees now but I still love playing.'

Eric Anderton, from Thorpe St Andrew is also still going strong at the age of 80 and playing in the third division for Thorpe.

He was part of the original club when it was formed when he was 14, when two teams were set up, and started playing in the local league at around 16 years old.

'I enjoy it because it keeps you fit,' Mr Anderton said. 'I've always played sport, I played football, cricket tennis, and I've started playing short mat bowls now as well, so I've always been keen on my sport and kept that going.

'I enjoy table tennis and it helps to keep you going.'

Anyone interested in playing in the Norwich and District Table Tennis League can contact Mr Calver on 01603 867924 or marden21@btinternet.com

Robert Bootyman from Wensum Table Tennis Club also helps organise disabled participation in the league and can be contacted on 01603 478667 or 07786 556212.

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