by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
Simply, his role is very much to set the example.
“I know people have referred to me as the oldest player in the tournament in Sweden but I want to let you know that physically and mentally I am young in the game. Table tennis is my passion and I have learned a lot of life lessons from playing the game. My body is still capable of playing for more years and I am playing to have fun. I love table tennis; some of the virtues I have built into myself in life are things I picked from playing table tennis. So for me, table tennis is life and I love it.” Traian Ciociu
The experience possessed by Traian Ciociu is invaluable not only for the players in the team in Halmstad but for the Luxembourg Table Tennis Federation as a whole. However, he views matters from a somewhat different perspective.
“I am still playing well but I am also willing to learn from the young players because the revolution in the game now is going global so I am doing everything within my reach to pick from the professional players in this competition,” Traian Ciociu said.
The father of two made his debut at the 1991 World Championship in Chiba where he represented Romania but then moved to Luxembourg; in 2002, when 39 years old he made his debut for his adopted country.
In action in 2002 but then a break until 2016 when he returned to duty for Luxembourg at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur. However, injury forced a premature exit from proceedings.
Now full of energy, Traian Ciociu, who is preparing for the World Veteran Championships in Las Vegas, still believes that he has what it takes to compete at high level but accepts that the level of the game in Luxembourg does not afford him the chance to improve his level game.
“I must commend the Luxembourg Table Tennis Federation for their support because without their backing, I will not be here today. So for me, we are still not at a high level but we have young players who are ready to raise the standard of the game. I will continue to motivate and give the necessary support to the team whenever we are out for tournament. We train and work together to ensure success for the team.” Traian Ciociu
In his 40s, Traian Ciociu reached no.123 on the World Rankings, while when 52 years of age he was at no.200. Now a grandfather, he believes he can still progress..
“I don’t really have an answer to the idea of when I am going to retire because I am physically fit and mentally balanced, so for me I love playing the game and I will continue as long as I can.” Traian Ciociu
For him, the virtues that table tennis possesses such as fair play, sportsmanship, respect and perseverance are the things the present day players must imbibe.
“All the virtues of table tennis have also helped me in life and I think being positive in life is another quality everybody must have. Table tennis is my life and I cannot do without it. ” Traian Ciociu.
Following the conclusion of the group stage in Men’s Division on Wednesday 2nd May, Luxembourg concluded matters in fifth place ahead of Puerto Rico but behind Iran, the United States, Spain and Kazakhstan.