98-year-old table tennis player impresses at Simcoe Seniors’ Center

Margaret ‘Gretel’ Hansel, a nimble-for-her-age 98-year-old table tennis player, says she’s been playing the sport “quite a while” at the Simcoe Seniors’ Centre.

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And the Simcoe resident plans to keep playing as long as she can.

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“I cannot tell ahead of time,” she smiled after Thursday morning’s session with nine table tennis friends. “As long as anybody wants to play with me…”

Hansel remembers first trying the sport at the senior center after suffering a wrist injury.

“I had a broken wrist and I needed exercise, to move it, and this is when I started.

“I was younger then,” she added with a laugh.

“Somebody who is 98-years-old and plays as good as she does, we’re really impressed,” said Bill Leng, table tennis convener at the senior center. “We have to take it a little bit easier, we can’t be smashing it… but Gretel is very good.”

The average age of the centre’s table tennis players is about 75, he noted.

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Deft with the table tennis paddle, Hansel’s hand-eye-coordination immediately catches the eye. She does not win a lot, she admits, but ‘sometimes.’

“I’m just trying.”

Staying active is very important, she said.

“You have to do something. You know, if you sit still, that’s the end. You have to be busy… and you have a reason for living. I am looking forward, twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday, coming here and playing.”

Hansel, who enjoyed birthday cake with her table tennis friends Thursday at the Simcoe Seniors’ Centre, officially celebrated her 98th birthday Saturday, Feb. 10 with family in London.

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