Cheering on a champion

Torrens Grove's resident table tennis champion speaks to RetireAustralia about her love of the game and how it's helped her to stay active over the years.

Betty Bird - Torrens Grove Retirement Village - RetireAustralia

“You’ve reached the home of Betty Bird. She can’t come to the phone at the moment because she’s too busy playing table tennis!”

Betty Bird’s answering machine message says it all, and if you try to ring her, you’re likely to hear it.

At 84, the Torrens Grove Retirement Village resident is more active than ever, spending three days a week at her local table tennis club and competing regularly in Australian and international tournaments.

Just recently, she brought home a silver and a bronze medal in the World Veteran Championship in Las Vegas.

“I won the Worlds in 2012 and again in 2016, but I just got unseated as number one,” she said.

“A new lady came into my age group—she’s just turned 80—and she thrashed me.

“But there’s always next time!”

Betty has been playing since she was just 17, when she discovered the games room at the London office where she worked as a typist.

“I liked it so much I rang up the English association to see if there was a club near where I lived, and then I started playing in tournaments.”

By 19, she had represented England.

“I’ve still got my first cutting in the Daily Express; it said ‘New names beat old ones’ or something like that.

“It’s a bit yellow now but I’ve still got it!”

Over the course of her career—which has spanned six decades and five children—Betty has amassed an impressive collection of trophies and medals and has formed countless friendships with fellow players.

And she shows no sign of slowing down.

She is an involved member of the community at Torrens Grove, where she has lived since 2002. She also exercises regularly to stay fit and healthy.

“I walk, I ride my bike… I used to swim but I gave that up to focus on table tennis.”

Betty’s next tournament will be in October at the Australian Open Veteran Championship and she’s got her eye on the gold medal at the next European Veterans Championship in Budapest.

“I haven’t been there yet, so I’m looking forward to that!”

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