MUSCAT: The World Veteran Table Tennis Championships Muscat 2023 are officially open after a glittering opening ceremony at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC). Abdullah Bamakhalif, President of the Oman Table Tennis Association, Petra Sörling, President of International Table Tennis Federation, and His Highness Sayyid Fahar bin Fatik Al Said, welcomed the 1600+ players aged 40 to over 90 years of age to Muscat and wished them the very best as they compete for 44 world titles during the coming week.
Also in attendance was Basil bin Ahmed al Rowas, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth for Sports and Youth and Chairman of Organising Committee, representatives of the Oman Table Tennis Association, Oman Sail, the Asian Table Tennis Association.
Distinguished guests were treated to a traditional Omani welcome performance featuring LEDs and Oman’s Royal Guards before the focus turned to competition on Monday.
Abdullah Bamakhalif, President of the Oman Table Tennis Association, said, “I am honoured to welcome all of you to the opening ceremony of the World Veteran Table Tennis Championship in Muscat 2023. We have participants from all corners of the globe in attendance and I wish them a pleasant stay in Oman. The World Veteran Table Tennis Championship 2023 is a significant international sports event in Oman's calendar. We are proud to have 1600 participants from 69 countries in attendance.
“The presence of these international delegates serves as an opportunity to showcase our country's hospitality, rich culture, and heritage. We look forward to sharing Oman's unique culture and warm hospitality with all of you,” he added.
Petra Sörling, President of International Table Tennis Federation, said, “It is an honour to be here today, in the beautiful city of Muscat, speaking to all the guests and the talented players who have come from all corners of the world to participate in this prestigious event. Five long years. This is the time we have been waiting to compete again in a World Veteran Championships, and I am so excited that as per tomorrow we are all returning to action again.
It is truly inspiring to see the passion and dedication of all the players here, with the oldest participant being 90 years old. This is an event for all, and it really shows the close link between sport - health and well-being. So let us all embrace the spirit of the World Veterans Championships and the motto of our sport: Table Tennis. For All. For Life. Forever," she added.
The first round of matches started on Monday and saw more than 80 tables in action across 21 age categories with the largest age category being the 90+ group.
Bruno Thumann of Germany, competing in the 80-85 category, said, “The venue is really good, with all new tables. Everything is perfect. It’s great to see old friends again and meet up with players from the last World Championship in Las Vegas.”
Geeta Kumthekar, representing India in the 60+ age group in singles, doubles and mixed doubles competition, added, “This is the first time I am participating in international competition. I only began playing at a later age and enjoyed the game very much, so to be here is a great feeling. The facilities here are very good; I’ve already played one game and I am looking forward to my next match.”
The World Veteran Table Tennis Championships 2023 is organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, the Oman Table Tennis Association and the International Table Tennis Federation, with support from Oman Fiber Optic, STAG Sports, Omantel and Belltel.