15 Jul 2019

Participation, it is the taking part that counts; certainly for the vast majority of athletes that fact applies to the Olympic Games. However, on Saturday 17th February in New York, the fact applied to another tournament, one that has an impact on lives just as does the quadrennial spectacular.

The Westchester Table Tennis Center hosted the first ever Ping Pong Parkinson tournament.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

Organised following an initiative by Nenad Bach, the celebrated Croatian musician, composer and promoter of peace, now for many years resident in New York, the tournament proved a success beyond expectations.

Nenad Bach, who is being assisted by Dr. Art Dubow and Irene Silbert, is of no doubt that playing table tennis is helping him lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s considerably.

“Our goal was to bring awareness not just to the people who are diagnosed and who can be helped but to the scientific community who should do more research on the subject of table tennis and health, particularly Parkinson’s. “ Nenad Bach

In charge of proceedings was Will Shortz, the owner of Westchester Table Tennis Center, a dedicated table tennis player but perhaps better known as the Crossword Editor for the New York Times.

Seven players competed on an all play all basis, a player handicapped depending on their skill level. Matches were recorded on video, interviews took place, electronic scoreboards were used, the whole proceedings being presented in a highly professional manner.

“The goal of Ping Pong Parkinson is to halt the progression, and possibly reverse the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. We aim to do this through ping pong playing for which there is supporting research. Physiologically, at the cellular level, dopamine, the principal neurotransmitter that is deficient in Parkinson’s Disease, is increased with exercise. Playing a neurologically challenging activity such as ping pong, helps to establish new neurons producing dopamine, and new circuitry to target various motor and cognitive, including emotional functions.” Dr. Art Dubow

A most successful event; for the record Margie Alley finished in first place ahead of Nenad Bach but in reality everybody was a winner. Sport won, it was fun and moreover health and well-being was promoted, the most important factor of all.

2018 Ping Pong Parkinson Tournament: Photos by Glen Randmer

2018 Ping Pong Parkinson Tournament: Read Bruce Ballard’s blog

General News Sports Science Nenad Bach Margie Alley Dr. Art Dubow