47-year-old Greek player extends passion for table tennis at Military World Games

Source: Xinhua| 2019-10-21 21:04:12|Editor: Yurou
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WUHAN, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- When Kalinikos Kreangka of Greece plays the table tennis matches at the Military World Games in Wuhan, China, he usually confronts an opponent less than half of his age.

But his age and a recent injury didn't stop the 47-year-old Greek table tennis legend from snatching a game off 23-year-old Zhou Kai of China on Saturday and 20-year-old Ham Yu-song of South Korea on Sunday, despite his team suffering 3-0 defeats in their first two rounds in the Group A team competition.

"I'm still playing at a good level in the French league," Kreangka said. "I was injured with my elbow for a month and have started playing regularly only recently, but I know I have to protect myself a little more."

Kreangka is a former world No. 7 and twice reached the final of the men's World Cup in 2003 and 2004. He was also a bronze medalist in singles at the World Championships in 2003.

He firmly believes the sport in his country is in good hands.

"It is very popular. We have had a very good national team for many years now, and many young boys and girls play in leagues outside of Greece. I think we have a good level of quality in the sport. The younger players play in the French league, and are getting better and better each year," he said.

The veteran has prolonged his passion and career on the sport in French league where he remains a top draw thanks to the almost mythical status that his backhand topspin has acquired over the years.

But the lure of coming to China, the powerhouse in table tennis world, as well as his indefatigable desire to play the sport, keep him going.

"People love table tennis here, so it feels very good to come here and play in front of the Chinese people who appreciate the sport so much," he noted.

Kreangka hopes to impress in the men's singles competition later in the tournament.

"For me individually, it is to play well here. From the team's perspective, I want to see good, strong games which is great for the people who come to watch," he said.