A VETERAN sportsman from Hucknall is shuttlecock-a-hoop after becoming a badminton world champion — at the age of 66.
Ken Tantum, of Beardall Street, smashed his way to the over-65s mixed doubles title at the World Senior Championships in Vancouver, Canada.
He and partner Joanna Elson (also 66), of Bristol, didn’t drop a game as they grabbed gold.
Left-hander Ken said: “It is an incredible feeling to be a world champion.
“It was great simply to go to Canada and compete. To get a gold medal really does top it off. It is the icing on the cake.
“I made a deal with some of my friends that I would buy the drinks when I got back to Nottinghamshire if I won a medal. I’m only too happy to get a round in after winning gold!”
Dad-of-two Ken, who is married to Cate, has lived in Hucknall since 1980. He has been playing badminton since 1969 after taking part in a beginners’ class at Arnot Hill in Arnold.
In his younger days, he didn’t play a lot of competitive badminton but he has taken part in senior tournaments since the age of 43.
Since turning 50, he has competed more regularly in the Nottinghamshire Veterans League and is the current captain of the county’s over-65s team.
It was a complete fluke that the grandad-of-two ended up being teamed with Joanna less than three years ago.
Ken was playing in a veterans’ competition in Scotland when it was recommended he join forces with Joanna. They played together a few weeks later and hit it off straight away.
Incredibly, the pair don’t play that regularly and don’t even train together between tournaments because of the distance between where they live.
But last year, they took a bronze medal in the over-65s category at the European Seniors Championships in Dundalk, Ireland.
In Canada, competitions took place at the Richmond Oval in categories ranging from 35-year-olds to 70-plus. Ken was knocked out in the First Round of the singles by a German and also played in the men’s doubles, with Jim Morgan, of Ireland, where he lost in the Second Round.
But he and Joanna hit a rich vein of form in the mixed doubles, opening their account with a 2-0 (21-17, 21-7) victory over Japanese second seeds Tateo Chiba and Yoshiko Yamashiro.
The Second Round was a much tighter affair against American Andy Gouw and Peruvian Lucia Jimenez. It finished 2-0 but both game scores were 22-20.
In the semi-final, Ken and Joanna came up against compatriots Ray Sharp and Barbara Gibson and again won 2-0 (21-18, 21-17).
In the final, they beat Canadians David Niven and Sanne Dryborough 2-0 (21-14, 21-11).