"I'm not old. I want to win," the 69-year-old table tennis player Cor Uitvlugt from the Netherlands told reporters at the Shanghai Sepcial Olympics on Saturday.
Uitvlugt is the eldest athlete of the Special Olympics, which has drawn some 10,000 intellectual disabled athletes and their coaches from all over the world.
Wearing a pair of glasses, Uitvlugt had three successive matches in Saturday's men's singles competitions.
Moving fast and responding quickly, Uitvlugt is very skillful in backhand smash. Although losing one of the matches, Uitvlugt was not sad. "I expect gold in following competitions," he said.
Incredibly, the 69-year-old man had an operation just two months ago, which nearly cost his chances for table tennis games or even his life.
In a physical examination in early July, Uitvlugt was diagnosed esophageal cancer. "The doctor said the situation was really bad and he had to get an operation right away," said Feike Tuinhof, head coach of the Dutch table tennis team.
However, two weeks later when the doctor rechecked Uitvlugt, he was surprised to see that all the cancer cells were cleared. Four months later, Uitvlugt returned to the table tennis team and came to play at the Shanghai Special Olympics.
"It's a miracle," said Tuinhof, adding table tennis is Uitvlugt's favorite sport. Since he started to play it 25 years ago, he never went away from it. In a tournament for the intellectual disabled held in Luxemburg in June, Uitvlugt won one gold and one silver.
"He was once an aggressive player, very fast. But now we told him to slow down since he just had such a big operation," said Tuinhof.
"I'm OK...I'm recovered. My coach helped me. Table tennis makes me healthy. I'll win," said the eldest athlete at the Shanghai Special Olympics.