Hamilton's Trevor Coulter has won a maiden world masters title at the age of 80, but any thoughts that it might be his swansong in squash are well off the mark, as he hopes to be playing on until he's three figures.
"It's a good dream," he said. "If you don't aim at that, what do you do? Do you sit on your backside and waste away?"
Last week Coulter took out the men's 80-plus division at the biennial amateur tournament, which anyone can enter and was this year staged in Hong Kong. The 80s division is the oldest on offer and it's just the second year it has been played in the competition, which began in 1976.
"So from now on I'll be playing bloody kids as they come up," Coulter said.
Fifty-two New Zealanders competed across the men's and women's grades, which start at 35-plus, with Coulter - at his seventh masters - the only one to bag a gold medal.
His event proceeded despite five players pulling out before the start, leaving just the minimum requirement of a player from three different countries, with Wellington's Edward Delahunty also in the mix and upsetting second-seed Coulter 11-7 9-11 9-11 11-7 12-10 in 36 minutes.
But Coulter bounced back in his next game four days later to defeat Finland's Erkki Juslen 11-6 11-6 11-4 in just 15 minutes. Two days later he was up against English top seed John Edward Cox, with Coulter needing to win in either three or four sets to take the title, as five sets would give it to Cox on games countback.
Going into the competition, Coulter's main goal was to defeat Cox - a winner of several masters titles - for the first time, but wasn't too confident.
However, he managed to blow him away 11-8 11-5 11-7 in 20 minutes to register his best achievement in the sport.
"Definitely, hell yeah," Coulter said.
"Just a little bit of elation. It was fantastic."
Coulter was a late starter in squash, not playing until he was 41.
"Possibly because I didn't know much about it. And I was working too hard. We were too busy getting set up," said the former builder and bricklayer.
Now a member of the Hamilton Squash and Tennis Club, Coulter plays in the E1 or E2 grades, having maintained a fairly consistent game since his 50s.
"I run like a silly bugger," he said of the key to his game, "because my racquet skills are just average."
Coulter plays on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights, while also fitting tennis in on Wednesday mornings and Monday evenings.
After retiring early, playing in masters events is Coulter's excuse for a holiday. His wife was with him in Hong Kong and they have now gone to London to visit family.
- Waikato Times
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