From hospital bed to film star

Les D'Arcy stars in a new film called Ping Pong
Les D'Arcy stars in a new film called Ping Pong

VETERAN sportsman Les D’Arcy may be 91, but he has just had one of the most hectic and memorable weeks of his life.

While trying to retain his table tennis title at the World Veterans Championships in Sweden, he had to undergo major heart surgery.

Les D'Arcy stars in a new film called Ping Pong

Les D'Arcy stars in a new film called Ping Pong

Days later he flew back to England so he could carry the Olympic flame twice the distance as most other torchbearers.

And he is also starring in an inspiring new film about veteran athletes, which is out today.

Mr D’Arcy of Fairway View, Lupset, said: “My family have told me to have a rest now for a few days, but I definitely won’t be giving sport up just yet.”

The nonagenarian only took up athletics at the age of 84 and has competed at world level.

He has also competed in triathlons, weight lifting and his beloved table tennis.

He was defending his doubles title in Stockholm last week when he was taken ill and ended up having two major obstructions removed from his heart at Stockholm South General Hospital.

Despite concerns about his health, he flew home on Sunday in time to carry an Olympic torch through Market Harborough in Leicestershire on Monday.

And because one of the torchbearers did not show, he was pushed in a wheelchair by daughter Jane Yelland through two checkpoints during the relay.

Mr D’Arcy, who has six children, 17 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren, will now take the torch on its own mini tour to his offsprings’ schools.

He said: “It was an honour to be involved and something I wanted to do, so I did not want to let them down.

“There was doubt over whether I would be allowed to fly home, but I told them I had a job to do.”

The pensioner’s passion for sport has also inspired a new film called Ping Pong, which is released today.

It follows eight pensioners from across the globe as they compete in the over 80s category of the World Table Tennis Championships in Inner Mongolia.

Mr D’Arcy is prominent in promotional material for the 80-minute feature documentary, which has the strap line “you’re never too old for gold”.

The keen poet can also be heard linking scenes with his proverbs as the film includes a 100-year-old Australian woman and an 82-year-old man who nearly died.

Mr D’Arcy said: “I was in Croatia when the film director asked me if I wanted to take part and I was more than happy to get involved.

“I found it quite inspiring and it was exciting to do.

“It was great to do something positive which I hope will inspire other older people.

“I couldn’t have got through all of this without the help from my family and friends though.”

Ping Pong is being shown via www.pingpongfilm.co.uk