Alan Cornish is his name, and at 77, racket sports is still his game!
BACK in 1979 at the age of 38, Alan Cornish was interviewed for a sports magazine to discuss his love for racket sports and his success in each individual field. The author of the article presented Alan with the question: “Do you think at 38, you are nearly over the top?” Almost 40 years later, Alan has just returned from Zurich where he won the silver and bronze for Great Britain in the Racketlon World Championships. I think it’s safe to say the answer back in 1979 was quite clearly, NO!
Introduced to Racketlon in 2004, Alan has made a name for himself in the rackets based competition, not only for his success, but for being one of the oldest (possibly in fact the oldest!) participant to date. His initial introduction to the combination sport saw him competing at the age of 63 against other players almost 20 years his junior, and now almost 15 years later Alan is still holding his own.
Racketlon is a competition made up of four racket based sports, where you play your opponent to 21 at each of the four disciplines. Order of play begins with table tennis, followed by badminton, squash and then ending with tennis. It is always played in this order, with the size of the racket increasing with each match. The best racketlon players show good strength and balance throughout each of the sports, which Alan accentuated through his thorough training regime.
Table tennis is his main passion and what he would describe as his strongest sport, but Alan has shown immense dedication to each game in the lead up to the World Championships. An average week for the vintage player included three training sessions a day, seven days a week, varying between match play, coaching sessions and solo practice. Chloe Marshall, who is the head squash coach of Oxfordshire and Alan’s personal squash tutor, commented: “Alan’s passion and commitment has been truly inspiring! He has put endless hours into his training and has been really dedicated to giving his best performance at the Championships. I hope to see our young juniors taking a leaf out of his book.”
With months of practice under his belt, Alan reaped his rewards out in Zurich, placing second in the Over 70’s singles event and third in the Over 65’s team competition, returning back to Britain with a silver and bronze medal with his name on it.
Winning his group in the initial stages, followed by a convincing defeat over an Austrian player in the semi’s, Alan made it to the final where he narrowly lost out to Swede Lennart Eklandh. Interestingly, Alan beat Lennart in the group stages so the gold trophy most definitely wasn’t out of reach!
Not expecting to reach the final, Alan was thrilled with his performance throughout the event and achieved his main goal of enjoying himself and playing well, guided by the philosophy of Billie Jean King ‘The joy of winning is lovely but very fleeting; I always wanted just to play better”.
Alan has shown huge gratitude towards all the people who have been involved in his training this year commenting: “I could never have done it without the help and patience of all people involved.”
It’s difficult to read a story like Alan’s and not feel inspired and compelled to challenge oneself. So whatever you choose to do, do it with passion and give it your all.
“The main thing is to care. Care very hard, even if it is only a game you are playing” – Billie Jean King