Triumphing over Parkinson's: Agnes Jan’s journey to the ITTF World Masters Rome 2024

Promoting the theme of 'Diversity and Inclusion' in table tennis, for the first time, the ITTF Foundation forms a team represented by two players with Parkinson's at the ITTF World Masters Championships Rome 2024. Agnes Jan, diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2019, turned to table tennis in 2023, to improve the symptoms. Winning two silver medals at the 2023 World Parkinson’s Table Tennis Championships, she is now preparing for the World Masters Rome 2024 to inspire others and raise awareness about Parkinson's!

Agnes Jan, a retired primary school teacher from Ebenthal, Austria, has gone through challenges, including battling cancer and enduring lengthy therapies, before being diagnosed with Parkinson's in May 2019. However, her regular involvement in table tennis since 2023 has not only opened new horizons for her, allowing her to step out of self-sorrow and engage with the wider world, but has also provided a powerful means to manage her condition.

While enjoying her serene retirement and spending time with her children and grandchildren in the sunshine of her alpine garden in the rural paradise of Carinthia, Austria's southernmost state, Agnes’s life journey has been far from tranquil.

Eleven years ago, Agnes battled breast cancer, enduring surgeries, chemotherapy, and a seven-year-long hormone therapy regimen. During this period, she experienced persistent pain in the right side of her body, which was mistakenly attributed to hormone therapy.

In reality, Agnes was already suffering from the early stages of Parkinson's disease, which was not accurately diagnosed until 2019, when a physiotherapist advised her to consult a neurologist. Despite the challenges, Agnes never considered giving up. She approached every new obstacle with a practical mindset, asking herself: "What is the situation? What can I do? What are the benefits and drawbacks?"

In her search for effective ways to combat Parkinson's symptoms, Agnes discovered the positive impact of physical exercise. She found articles highlighting various sports, with table tennis notably beneficial for Parkinson's patients. In January 2023, Agnes decided to join the table tennis club her husband founded in their village 44 years ago and began practising three times per week for at least two hours each training session. From the very first session, she noticed improvements in her movement and a reduced need for medication.

Due to her training at the club and additional fun play with her family at home, Agnes has quickly integrated table tennis into her life. The community and the sport itself have brought immense joy and a sense of normalcy to her. Her coach, well-informed about Parkinson's, pushes her to maximise her physical potential, and Agnes is fascinated by how her symptoms seem to vanish when she is at the table.

Agnes's dedication led her to compete in the World Parkinson’s Table Tennis Championships for the first time in Crete in 2023, where she won two silver medals.

These achievements fuelled her determination to keep training and competing, aiming to slow down or even halt the progression of her disease.

Representing the ITTF Foundation at the ITTF World Masters Championships in Rome 2024, Agnes is now whole-heartedly preparing for the prestigious tournament and will join over 6000 players, spreading awareness about Parkinson’s and the transformative power of table tennis. Through her story of striving, Agnes hopes to inspire other Parkinson’s patients to engage in physical activity and encourage medical professionals to recognise the benefits of early diagnosis and treatment.

Join us in supporting Agnes Jan on her inspiring journey to the ITTF World Masters Championships Rome 2024. By supporting Agnes, you are not only backing her on her road to Rome but also promoting the message of resilience, hope, and never giving up throughout the worldwide table tennis and Parkinson’s community.

While the Swaythling Club International has partly sponsored the ITTF Foundation team and Double Happiness has provided the players’ kit, we are looking for your contribution that will further boost Agnes and will go towards:

  • Travel expenses
  • Accommodation
  • Participation fees

Let's help Agnes showcase the positive impact of table tennis on Parkinson's patients and motivate others to join the movement. Together, we can champion the cause of inclusion and celebrate the universal language of sports.

Donate today and be part of Agnes Jan’s inspiring journey to the ITTF World Masters Championships Rome 2024!

Click to know more about the ITTF Foundation team at the World Masters Rome 2024.

Click here to read the life story of the other player with Parkinson's, Steve Morley.

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