Australian veteran Cyrus Pestonji: Five medals at TT tournament against NZ

Over-70s player Cyrus Pestonji donned the green and gold for the first time this year

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Representing Australia this month in the annual Trans-Tasman Table Tennis test against New Zealand in Nelson, NZ, Sydney’s Cyrus Pestonji came home with a five-medal haul.

He played in the over-70s age group.

The Trans-Tasman test is played between corresponding age groups starting from over-30s to over-80s.

In the Team events, Cyrus and his doubles partner Stephen Tai won the silver medal, defeating the top NZ team in their over-70 age group.

Then in the individual events in the NZ Veterans National Championships, they won two silver medals and two bronze medals.

“I’ve been very honoured to put on the green and gold for the first time this year,” Cyrus Pestonji told Indian Link. “It was a wonderful contest – the standard of players was very high in this international competition.”

Even though Cyrus’ over-70s team won their rubber against NZ, the overall score was 30 all – a tie.

cyrus pestonji
Cyrus Pestonji is fifth from right (Source: Supplied)

The Lahore-born Cyrus Pestonji has lived in Sydney since 1981 and has been an avid cricket and table tennis player, winning national awards at both.

He played against top level players in both sports in Pakistan, and also in Australia. In Pakistan he represented his University of Engineering and Technology in cricket and table tennis. In cricket, he played with and against world famous players like the legendary Imran Khan, Hasan Jamil and Waseem Raja amongst others. Both Hasan Jamil and Waseem Raja later represented Pakistan for many seasons with distinction.

Cyrus received the Sportsman of the Year award in 1971 for his achievements in both cricket and table tennis. The three others to receive this distinction were Munawar Baseer (represented Pakistan in cycling), Hasan Jamil (represented Pakistan in cricket) and Javed Akhtar (represented Pakistan in athletics). That year Cyrus also achieved Punjab number one ranking in table tennis and helped his university win the National Inter-varsity Table Tennis championship for the first time.

In table tennis Cyrus was not only Punjab’s number one but also champion for Punjab University as well as Engineering University. He was selected for the Pakistan table tennis team for matches against Iran and Turkey.

After migrating to Australia in 1981, Cyrus played grade cricket for Western Suburbs District Cricket Club (WSDCC) in the Sydney Grade competition. At the time he was 30 and initially placed in 5th grade as an all-rounder. He performed consistently well and was promoted up to 2nd grade in the next six years.

His highest score in grade cricket in Australia was 123, his only century. However, quite a few 50s and 5-wicket hauls were achieved.

Cyrus played with some key players who later represented Australia, namely Dirk Wellham, Greg Mathews, David Gilbert, a teenaged Michael Clarke and Angus Fraser (who later played for England).

In table tennis, Cyrus played in the district competition for a few years and then had to stop due to work related travel. He restarted his competitive TT journey after retiring from corporate Australia in 2018. He has been part of the NSW Veterans teams since then and has competed in various tournaments in both Australia and NZ.

Being in a new country, his priorities earlier were to look after his young family and therefore a lot of focus was on getting a suitable job and then progressing through adding extra value over and above his job description. He was always ambitious and wanted to get a business-related degree. This he did in 1997 when he completed his MBA (Master of Business Administration) from Macquarie Graduate School of Management.

Despite all his achievements, Cyrus remains low key and modest. Currently, besides table tennis and golf, he enjoys helping his grandchildren with school work and mentoring some MBA students from Macquarie University.

Cyrus looks back at his TT exploits of this month with characteristic humility. “Thanks to my support staff, especially my wife Khursheed, I was well fed and hydrated at the event – which went on from 9 am to 9 pm over seven days. By the end I was pretty exhausted.”

He added modestly, “I need to work more on my fitness levels.”

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Kersi Meher-Homji
Kersi Meher-Homji
Kersi is a virologist by profession and a cricket writer and cricket statistician by hobby. He is an author of 17 cricket books and over 17,000 cricket and scientific articles.

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