Juneau resident Bob Janes, right, and Wilfredo Escobar Huntsman pose with their gold medals at the Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, Utah, earlier this month. (Courtesy Photo | Bob Janes)

Juneau resident Bob Janes, right, and Wilfredo Escobar Huntsman pose with their gold medals at the Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, Utah, earlier this month. (Courtesy Photo | Bob Janes)

Juneau retiree basks in recent table tennis glory

Bob Janes competed in three tournaments in Utah and Nevada

Sightseeing and table tennis is how one Juneau retiree likes his fall getaways.

For the better part of the last two decades, Bob Janes has played in table tennis tournaments for seniors in Utah and Nevada. This year, the 73-year-old had one of his most successful runs at the Huntsman World Senior Games, Nevada Senior Games, and Henderson Senior Warm-up Table Tennis Tournament.

Janes, who retired several years ago from a 41-year-career working at the State of Alaska, won seven medals at the three events, including gold in men’s and mixed doubles.

The two Nevada tournaments took place Oct. 2-5 at the Valley View Recreation Center in Henderson, Nevada, while the Huntsman World Senior Games took place Oct. 6-10 at the Southern Utah Veterans Home in St. George, Utah.

At the senior table tennis events, players are grouped together based on their respective ages.

“What makes it interesting for me is most of those people who show up for those tournaments, they live in a senior center down south, they can play every day, and some of the places have a rec center where they have coaches, and they can be coached and play every day,” Janes said. “And I show up and I played a little bit, but not very much. So I felt really blessed that I was able to be somewhat competitive when I went down there.”

The Huntsman World Senior Games is the largest event of the three, with 27 athletic events featured with participants coming from all over the world. This year was Janes’ 17th year playing table tennis at the international event.

“I’ve met a lot of people over the years,” Janes said. “Everybody plays hard when they’re playing, but after that it’s sort of a social thing too where you’ve known people over the years and you get to reconnect. ‘How are you doing? What are you up to?’ There’s people from all over the country and they’re interested (in me) because I’m coming down from Alaska.”

Janes has both played and coached in the Arctic Winter Games, a note mentioned in his Alaska Table Tennis Hall of Fame biography. Janes was inducted in the 2000s.

“Bob continues to be an excellent example for young players, not only because of his flawless backhand, footwork, and steady play but because of his sportsmanship,” the biography reads. “Due to Bob’s inspiration and willingness to teach young players, Juneau players continue to win spots on the Arctic Winter Games Table Tennis Team and represent Alaska internationally.”

• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com.

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