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Ceaseless spirit to SERVE

Dapper at 87, C. K. Ramakrishnan is getting ready for the World Veterans' Table Tennis Championship in Japan

Pic. by M. Moorthy

WHEN EVERYONE would consider "good health" an achievement in itself, C.K. Ramakrishnan, at 87, is obsessed with fitness, and passionate about table tennis. The grandfather is fighting fit, and is looking forward to taking part in the World Veteran's Table Tennis Championship to be held in Yokohama, Japan in May-June 2004. As the only one from India to have taken part in the world veteran's championship in Britain and Switzerland, Ramakrishnan is keen on adding to his impressive touring list.

As Ramakrishnan practises with Surendranath of the AG's Office at the T. Nagar Social Club, the old man's excellent block and admirable hand-eye co-ordination will surprise a casual visitor. But those who have seen him over the years know well that the skills and fitness he has acquired are entirely because of regular practice.

Now residing in T. Nagar with his wife who runs the family by taking music tuitions, Ramakrishnan is looking for financial support not just for his family but also to participate in tournaments. He gets a pension of Rs. 1,300 from various sources.

An early riser (he gets up at 4.30 a.m.), Ramakrishnan, who volunteered to take part in World War II, meditates, does restricted floor exercises and listens to music ("It is my soul," he says) before rushing off to practice.

Ramakrishnan is a hit with youngsters in the city and many like to play with him. He is also a regular in the State-ranking tournaments (he has played for 15 years) either as a player or as a spectator. "I took part in three State-ranking tournaments in 2003. I can't win but I play to maintain my reflexes," he says.

Though he started playing at 13, he could not continue for a variety of reasons. Only when he retired from service in 1961 was he able to resume practice.

Does he have any advice for those of his age? "They should not sit idle watching TV, they should keep themselves busy," he says, realising pretty well that not all can keep hitting the 40mm ball with gay abandon like him. "All I pray to God is to give me a longer life. To keep me healthy so that I can play with higher ranked players and maintain my performance." This paddler surely requires all encouragement.

K. KEERTHIVASAN

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