It was a simple yet insightful comment from Van Inh Le as his serve whistled past my paddle.
“You’re standing all the way on the left. I can serve it on the right and you can’t reach it,” he said.
The Fairfield Heights resident has made a career out of hitting where people are not. A career that is nearing 70 years.
So when this journalist arrived to play a game in his table tennis arena – complete with memorabilia from his time in the sport hanging on the walls – I knew I was in for a tough task.
I didn’t realise it was impossible.
As the 75-year-old prepares for the World Veteran Table Tennis Championships in Las Vegas, I arrived to do a story on the table tennis master.
As an avid table tennis player, I thought I would ask to play a game.
Three serves in and with me nowhere near getting a ball on the table, the “game” turned into him taking it easy on me in a series of rallies.
I cheered when I won a rare point. The next point he wasn’t so kind.
“It’s all about putting spin on the ball,” said Mr Le, as his serve bamboozled me for the umpteenth time. “The more spin, the better.”
Hopefully, I can win gold again. It won’t be easy.Van Inh Le
After graciously teaching me a few things with my serve he showed me around his multiple medals he has won from playing all over the world including Brazil, Germany, Japan and China.
His No.1 achievement are the two gold medals he won at the World Veteran Table Tennis Championships in Auckland.
He was successful in the men's over 70s singles and doubles categories. He will compete in the same categories at the Las Vegas Convention Center in June.
He has some form going into the event.
Not only has he beat me (well, it was a no contest really), the long-time table tennis player, coach, mentor and administrator won three medals at the World Masters Games in 2017 including gold in the over 70 years men’s singles category.
More gold at the Word titles is on the agenda. To help him on his journey he received $1000 from the Mayoral Scholarship Fund at last week’s council meeting.
“Hopefully, I can win gold again. China and Germany have good players. It won’t be easy,” he said.
Win or lose, he just loves playing the game.
He plays or coaches six to eight hours a day, six-days-a-week and holds after-school table tennis sessions in Bonnyrigg and Bankstown.
He started playing when he was six in Vietnam and came to Australia in 1993 — all the while his passion for table tennis remained strong.
So what’s the secret to his success?
“I have a good serve. It helps get an easy second ball,” he said.
I can testify to that – well, the times I actually hit it.
- See the video online.