Tuesday, 26 May 2020


Six Masters Games medals for retired teacher

Twelve years after last competing in the New Zealand Masters Games, Whitianga resident, David King, couldn’t resist the opportunity to play in the 2020 event in his hometown of Dunedin.

The 74-year-old racket sport enthusiast says his main aim was to challenge himself and prove he could still compete at a reasonable level, but travelled to the games with no expectations of success. Therefore, coming home with a haul of six medals was a pleasant surprise. “I had been to school and varsity in Dunedin and I managed the Carrington Halls of Residence for 15 years,” he said. “I had the opportunity to play with some old friends, so that was part of the motivation.”

David spent a week at the games earlier this month, participating in both badminton and tennis. The competition saw 5,000 competitors aged from 18 to 95 participate across 60 sports over nine days.

 “I hadn’t picked up a badminton in racket in about eight years, it was very hard going, especially at the beginning,” David said. “It took a while to get back into it, but my playing partner helped me out a lot.”

The modest former teacher is reluctant to sing his own praises, but admitted to being pleased with how he played at the tournament, winning four silver and one bronze medal across various categories in badminton, along with a gold in men’s doubles tennis. “There’s a social side to it of course, but you are conscious that you are competing,” he said. “I wanted to do my best, so I took it as seriously as I could. I think your focus is strong when you are involved in something like the games and maybe you play better as a result. If you saw me down at the Whitianga tennis courts last week, you’d think that guy will never win a thing.”

David’s achievements in Dunedin delighted his biggest fan, wife Larisa. “I can’t even imagine how to describe how proud I am, he is my star, my hero,” she said before revealing how a back injury had hampered David’s preparations for the games. “He was going to the chiropractor and couldn’t even practice that much. I think it is amazing what he has done.”

The couple moved to Whitianga from Auckland four years ago after initially planning to build a holiday home, but eventually being drawn here permanently by the beautiful environment and warm community. While David plays regularly with the Mercury Bay Tennis Club, he and Larisa have also been taking up some new interests since coming to the Coromandel.

“We’ve been playing bowls, we are pretty useless, but the people at the Mercury Bay Bowling Club have been so welcoming and helpful, we’re really enjoying it and it’s good to learn something new,” David said.

Larissa was also just about to embark on her first ever round of golf which she admitted to knowing nothing about. “David told me I’d have a driver to start and I asked if it would be male or female, that’s how little I know, but we’ll see how it goes,” she laughed.

David has no plans for any more competitions, other than enjoying playing some social tennis at the Mercury Bay Tennis Club. And despite Larissa’s enthusiasm, he said there’s absolutely no hope they will be testing their newfound bowling skills at next year’s Masters Games!

Pictured: Whitianga resident, David King, won six medals at the New Zealand Masters Games held recently in Dunedin.


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