By Barry Meisel
Ivan Slade was born in 1916. He will be the first to admit he is not a world champion, but at the age of 92 years he is truly a champion sportsman. I first met Ivan about ten years ago at the Huntsman’s Senior Games in St. George, Utah, and most recently met him in Las Vegas when I was playing in the Henderson Huntsman’s Senior Games warm up in October, 2008.
Ivan, from London, England, first started to play table tennis at age 9 at a play center. Later he joined the Manhatten table tennis club in the east end of London. The Manhatten club was one of England’s best clubs at that time, and when there was a big match and full house people sat in the street listening to the score through loud speakers in order to support their team. Ivan improved his game then to a very high level. He played in the all England club championships final and achieved a top 20 English ranking.
On the outbreak of WWII in 1939, Ivan joined the Royal Air Force. After the war Ivan played some very good matches against former world champions; he says his best match was against Victor Barna, former 5 times world champion. The match lasted over one and a half hours, which he finally lost by a very close 3 games to 2.
The games in those days were up to 21 points (instead of the current 11) and over 5 sets, which produced much better matches and full houses of spectators. The ITTF should consider bringing this score line back for the benefit of the sport.
Ivan immigrated to the USA in 1950, where he married and became a very successful interior designer. He did not play table tennis again for 40 years. Then, beginning in 1990 Ivan got back to his very high standard of play, and he has won many senior events including in world senior games and senior Olympics.
Today Ivan has a USA table tennis rating of 1,695, which is very high, and I know a lot of youngsters would still be dreaming of achieving this level. He says he still intends to continue playing table tennis as long as possible. For all his achievements Ivan was honored and became a member of the California hall of fame in 2003. Ivan is truly a great sportsman and athlete, and at the age of 92 has unbelievable very fast footwork with a very strong defensive hard rubber bat game; he often beats many players 70 years younger than himself. I am sure he would have no problems at all winning a world championship title in his age group.
Related article at www.wellbeingjournal.com: Table Tennis: Good for Body and Brain
Barry Meisel lives in Costa del Sol, Spain, where he writes a news column and an e-newsletter about table tennis. For more information regarding his work see international table tennis and also his table tennis column.