Brian Hill has once again proven himself as one of the globe’s top veteran table tennis stars.
This week the 69-year-old returned home after winning silver at the Stag 2014 World Table Tennis Championships in Auckland, New Zealand.
Brian was competing in the 70 years and over category for the first time, qualifying for this age group as he turns 70 later this year.
And he admits to a strong sense of pride after finishing the tournament as the world’s number-two player in his division.
“I’m very proud of the silver,” said Brian, who has also won medals at the World Championships in Mongolia in 2010 and Rio in 2008.
“I was going for gold, but I’m still very pleased with what I achieved.”
Competing at the Trusts Arena, which was home to almost 2,000 competitors last week, Brian qualified from his four-man round-robin group before having to win through a further five knockout stages to reach the quarter-finals.
A gruelling semi-final contest against Australian Bernard Wright finished in Brian’s favour, before - just a matter of hours later - he was finally beaten by another Aussie competitor, Van Inh Le.
“I beat Bernard Wright in the semi,” Brian continued. “Hes one of those players you have to fight every point for.
“When it came to the final I didn’t feel I had the energy I would have preferred.
“But Mr Le was a great players and you have to say ‘hats off to him’.”
Brian’s love affair with table tennis began more than 58 years ago when, aged 11, he first honed his skills on his parents’ dining room table, complete with a homemade net.
He represented England 13 times as a junior, winning two European Junior Championships as a 17-year-old.
After a break from the sport, due to work and family commitments, Brian picked up the paddle once more, and has represented his country more than 50 times as a veteran. He can also claim to have been the UK’s longest-running number one-ranked veteran, holding the position for seven years until a calf injury saw him forced to relinquish his crown.
“I was the one everybody was trying to beat,” Brian added.
“But in a way it just makes you more determined.”
His Wyberton Low Road home is now filled with his trophies and medals from a successful sporting career, but in a shed in the back garden is his pride and joy.
There you can find the Penmaen Table Tennis Club headquarters, complete with a former international-competition table and flooring which was taken from Manchester following the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
There Brian practices nearly every day of the year, and he intends to continue doing so as he hopes to scoop that coveted gold at the next World Championships in Alicante in two years’ time.