Age is nothing but a mere number. There are a number of examples proving this, but nothing exemplifies it better than veteran Table Tennis player Vinay Chopra.
Now pushing 61 years young, Vinay Chopra thrashed the rest of the players in the veteran’s category to win the prestigious National Veterans Table Tennis Championship at Srinagar, earlier this year in August.
And he is going to Oman to participate in the World Veterans Championships in January next year.
For me, I was fortunate enough to be in the same TT room as Vinay Chopra and other biggies of the Indian table tennis scenario – the then national champions Manjit Dua and the legendary Indu Puri, and a host of other stars including V Chandrashekar of Tamil Nadu – it was an education in shaping fast reflexes, pick up styles and learn the intricacies of the game, so well that one tried to trouble them in TT tournaments.
So, it was a pleasant trip down the nostalgia for me personally, to be able to touch base with Vinay Chopra again, just a few days after he won the national veteran’s championship and became the runners-up for the doubles title in partnership with Ravi Vashist, another big-time Delhi TT player who mastered virtually every shot in the game. He is also the winner of the World Veteran Doubles event in Las Vegas, USA, in 2018 partnering with Kapil Kumar.
Hailing from the kindergarten of TT, as it were, the Manav Sthali School in Rajinder Nagar of Delhi, Vinay Chopra pick up the style and speed of the game and was counted as a young and upcoming player by the time he came to college – the very prestigious Shriram College of Commerce (SRCC), a college which even The Sundar Pitchai admitted that he could not even hope for admission given his relatively poorer Plus Two marks.
Participation in inter-school and Inter-college tournaments groomed him to participate in Delhi as well as national championships, and was counted as a successful athlete, and a role model for youngsters – not just in sports but doing well in academics as well.
Today, not many can grudge his staying at the top of the game – given his tenacious persistence to be good in the sport and holds his own even against the reigning Delhi and India players. “I thrash some of them even today,” a beaming but slightly reserved Vinay Chopra told Tricity Scoop in an exclusive chat.
“Being engaged in any physical activity keeps the body, mind and soul fit, and I recommend it for everyone,” he said adding that for himself personally, he forgets his age when he is on the field – near a table tennis table, that is.
What makes Vinay Chopra different from other players is that he is a good administrator as well and was associated with the running of the game with the Delhi State TT Association and was crucial in grooming a lot of youngsters in the game, strategies and more important in maintaining fitness. For playing the game and staying mentally alert as well as developing silver quick reflexes.
But with all these qualities, it is a pity that he did not take up coaching as a profession, but still game to help anyone who approaches him for improving their game.
Even today, Vinay Chopra is very active and represents Delhi, and even India at important TT veterans’ championships held in India and abroad. After participating in many tournaments in the Gulf, Vinay Chopra is about to embark on a tour of the United States for a series of Table Tennis tournaments and training camps, early next year.
He still considers winning important, and the hunger does not diminish one bit even at 59. Each match, each tournament is as competitive for him as the first one he played when as a young student at Manav Sthali school.
He has completed 50 years playing the game that fascinated him as a child and continues to excite him even today at a ripe old age when many are content with a lazy, sedentary retired life.