Torrens Grove resident Betty Bird celebrated her 85th birthday in July as the European table tennis champion, coming home from the European Veterans Championships in Budapest with not one, but two gold medals.
Marianne and Betty (left to right)
Not only did Betty win the over-85s singles, but she teamed up with Marianne Blasberg, whom she beat in the single’s final, to win the women’s over-85s doubles.
“I just won the doubles and the singles, which was most important. I’m the European champion now!,” said Betty.
Having been born in England and moved to Australia in 1974, Betty is eligible to compete in the European, world and Australian championships, and makes the most of this by travelling internationally every year.
Before the latest European championships, Betty’s doubles partner, Marianne, had won the European singles five times in a row. “This time I beat her in three straight sets. She’d won five times at the European championships, that’s 10 years. My daughter looked it up and told me I’d knocked her crown off!,” Betty explained.
While she and Marianne had never previously played doubles together, they already plan to team up at the world championships next year. “She’s going to play with me in the Worlds next year in Bordeaux. Touch wood,” Betty said.
Betty might have to clear more space in her garage at Torrens Grove, which she uses to store her extensive medal collection. She already has her eye on the Australian championships later this year, at which she will play singles, mixed doubles, and women’s doubles.
“I represent South Australia in the over-75s,” said Betty. “We’ve been losing to Victoria but this year we hope to beat them.”
Let’s hope the home ground advantage gives the South Australian team the winning edge!