SEA Games: At 51, Richard Gonzales has more to give to table tennis, country

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 30 2022 09:50 AM

Richard Gonzales added a SEA Games silver medal recently to grow his reputation as local table tennis’ ‘living legend’. Handout
Richard Gonzales added a SEA Games silver medal recently to grow his reputation as local table tennis’ ‘living legend’. Handout

In a sport that requires speed, agility, endurance and high skill set, 51-year-old Richard Gonzales has no plans of slowing down and is not ready yet to give up playing for the country.

The enlisted Army personnel notched a silver medal for the Philippine men’s table tennis team at the recent Southeast Asian Games, as he and his partner, John Russel Misal, placed second behind the powerhouse pair of Clarence Chew and Ethan Poh.

Philippine Table Tennis Federation Inc. secretary-general Pong Ducanes told ABS-CBN News that Gonzales, a living legend in the sport, has committed to continue serving the national squad as long as his services are needed.

“At his age, we really wanted him to be playing coach,” Ducanes said in a telephone interview. “Pero ayaw pa niya. Gusto niya pa talaga maglaro, kasi ang katwiran niya, nakaka-medal pa siya.”

The silver-medal finish, which was an improvement from a bronze medal output in the 2019 SEA Games in Manila, is enough justification that the pride of Bohol can still play competitive table tennis.

Gonzales has defied different generations as he continued to play the sport that he loves.

“Binibiro nga siya, ’yung mga coach ng ibang teams, mga nakalaban na niya, pero siya naglalaro pa rin. Parang living legend talaga siya ng table tennis,” added Ducanes.

True enough, Gonzales is definitely a legend in the sport.

From his humble beginnings, Gonzales shared to Ducanes how he emerged to become the country’s top paddler.

“Nu’ng bata siya, ang sinasabi ng tatay niya, kapag hindi siya nanalo (sa pustahan), hindi siya kakain,” relayed Ducanes. “Ganu’n siguro ’yung mga nakagawian ng mga sinaunang tatay.”

For Gonzales, playing table tennis has been his life.

“Hindi naman kasi mataas ang natapos niyan sa pag-aaral. Talagang ibinuhos niya sa paglalaro ng table tennis, hanggang sa kinuha siya ng Army to become an enlisted personnel and mailagay siya sa special service,” Ducanes said.

But as long as Gonzales can smash, engage in fiery exchanges with his opponents and play at a very competitive level, the living legend of local ping pong will continue to hold on to that paddle.