Former national table tennis champion Manmeet Singh Walia passes away at 58

Manmeet was suffering from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a disease that causes motor neuron degeneration, leading to voluntary muscle impairment.

Press Trust of India May 12, 2020 16:08:21 IST
Former national table tennis champion Manmeet Singh Walia passes away at 58

New Delhi: Former national table tennis champion Manmeet Singh Walia, who was suffering from rare ALS disease for nearly two years, has died in Montreal, Canada.

Manmeet was 58 and is survived by his wife and two daughters. He succumbed to the disease on Monday.

Former national table tennis champion Manmeet Singh Walia passes away at 58

Representational image. AFP

Manmeet was suffering from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a disease that causes motor neuron degeneration, leading to voluntary muscle impairment.

He had visited his doctors in Coimbatore also, trying to seek advice and find a cure.

One of the finest and consistent performers in the '80s, Manmeet became the national champion in 1989 when he beat S Sriram in the men's singles final in Hyderabad.

He had represented the country at multiple international events after making his debut at the Asian Championships in 1980 along with eight-time national champion Kamlesh Mehta.

The Indian squad then, comprising Manjeet Singh Dua, Kamlesh Mehta, B. Arun Kumar, Manmeet and V. Chandrasekhar, led 4-2 before losing 4-5 to North Korea.

Manmeet's two crucial wins included beating then World number six Jo Young Ho, their top player, and another player who was World No. 13. Manmeet was all of just 18 then.

Manmeet, however, could not repeat his Hyderabad performance in the subsequent nationals but he had made it to the finals four times on the trot since 1981. After he retired from the sport, he went to Canada and settled there.

Recalling his association with Manmeet, Kamlesh said that he was one of the best in the business those days.

"He and I made our debut together in the Kolkata Asian championships. Only Chandra, Arun and Manmeet got to play the match against the North Koreans. And, Manmeet's was crucial as he won both his rubbers and put India ahead. India finished fifth in the championships," said Kamlesh.

His senior in the squad, Manjeet also spoke highly of his state-mate who could have gone on to play a few more years.

"We thought his retirement was a little too premature," he said.

Kamlesh, too, echoed his views along a similar line.

"In death, too, it was very early," said Kamlesh, who was Manmeet's teammate in Bank Sports Board tournaments.

TTFI Secretary General M.P. Singh, condoling his death, said it was a sad moment for the entire table tennis fraternity.

"I have interacted with him as a player during my playing days as well as in recent times when he came to Delhi a couple of years ago. I have lost a good friend," he said.

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