Cooler than your regular champions – Part 1
The Parkinson’s World Table Tennis Championships (PWTTC) is an annual celebration of the social and physical benefits of playing table tennis for people with Parkinson’s. The participants are not only the advocates of the health benefits of the sport, but they are also the inspiration that will lead to positive changes for others who live with the disease.
They may not be your regular champions with the best table tennis skills, but they surely are the champions in living their lives to the fullest, even under the shadows of Parkinson’s. In part one of this article series, we look at some of those aiming to shine in Berlin this year.
“Winning is irrelevant for me, I participate because I like to play with others. Meeting others and being part of the journey is what I am here for.”
The Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2013 did not change Lumey’s life that much; she was busy with her company and feeling fine. Until she saw the movie A Late Quartet, a film that follows the world-renowned Fugue String Quartet after their cellist was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
“I started exercising to keep my muscles flexible. I feel good starting my day doing sports. Every morning at 08:30 I would either, run, bike, swim, do yoga or play table tennis. I like learning new things and making different moves. This trains my brain and keeps the mind fit.”
Upbeat and seems always up for the fun stuff, Lumey shares with us her plan this September with great excitement.
“I start the month with playing some table tennis with some amazing people, and will join the bicycle tour for the Parkinson’s patients and cycle back to the Netherlands once eliminated. My level of table tennis is zero so I cannot be too optimistic about winning. I will enjoy the process though!”
Frank Bernhard Gebhardt
“A life without table tennis would be very bad. When I start playing, I notice how my hands become steadier.”
A lot has changed for 51-year-old Gebhardt since he was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2008.
“I used to cycle marathons but now I can barely ride a racing bike. I would use Parkinson’s as an excuse for everything. I was terrified that my life would end soon and was worried about my quality of life.”
Gebhardt’s journey took a sharp turn when he saw the good and new things the disease has brought him.
“I have learnt to live more consciously. I invest time in things I enjoy and am open to new opportunities. I started to live again and have bought a Ford Mustang with 309 horsepower. I have been travelling with it a lot since and I have only driven a 60-horsepower car before!”
Gebhardt is now the proud owner of his own business where he sells homemade upcycled products. Table tennis plays a big role in his life. He has joined a club two years ago and has invested in a top-notch table tennis table and a ball-throwing bot. With his Parkinson’s support group, Gebhardt finds time between his table tennis training and Mustang adventures for trampolining.
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