Indefatigable Richard Purser, who boasts almost 70 years of badminton experience, has called upon the sport’s tight-knit Kiwi community to fully embrace the 2017 World Masters Games in Auckland.
The Remuera-based sportsman is well placed to judge the merit of the quadrennial festival of sport having won a number of gold medals in his four previous appearances and he is keen that badminton players in his homeland should not miss out.
“The great thing about the World Masters Games (in badminton) is it caters for everyone whatever the level whether that is open, competitive or recreational,” explains Richard, 72.
“The World Masters Games is always played in a unique atmosphere. There is always such a big badminton crowd. The players have so much fun together and I also really enjoy the team event.”
Taking up badminton at his local Army hall in New Plymouth at the age of three, Richard could have scarcely imagined back then that the game would have taken him to all four corners of the globe during a distinguished playing and coaching career.
The Taranaki-born player secured no less than 33 national senior titles including a record equalling nine men’s singles crowns and also appeared in four Commonwealth Games winning a bronze in the men’s doubles alongside his brother, Bryan, at the 1978 edition in Edmonton, Canada.
He later enjoyed a successful 25-year coaching career sharing his time between Europe and New Zealand. Yet he has never stopped playing the game he loves and only last month (September) took silver in the men’s doubles in the 50+ age division at the New Zealand Masters Badminton Championships in Hamilton alongside former Black Caps cricketer and 1990 Commonwealth Games badminton representative Phil Horne
The question is why does he continue to play?
“I like to feel fit and I love the speed, agility and endurance of the game,” he says. “I also love the exhilaration and the speed of a good men’s doubles game. It is so much fun.”
Playing racquet sports four times a week – Richard is an enthusiastic tennis and squash player and former New Zealand masters champion in both sports – he has managed to maintain his fitness levels which he hopes will take him all the way through to the 2017 World Masters Games some 28 years after making his debut appearance in the multi-sport extravaganza in Denmark.
“If I’m lucky with my health, which I never take for granted, I’m sure I’ll be there (in Auckland),” he adds. “At the stage I’m just not sure of the events I’ll be competing in as I have younger partners and quite often play down the age groups.
“I’m very excited that the World Masters Games is coming to my home city. I’m sure I’ll get caught up in the atmosphere. It will be great to see a lot of my overseas friends visiting my country.”