(WSVN) - Inspiration comes in all forms, and for one former Paralympian, she lives to encourage everyone that comes into her life, especially when it comes to playing table tennis. This nearly 75-year-old woman can still hit you with a nasty backhand, sitting down.
Boasting a constant smile, Terese Terranova is one athlete everyone should mimic.
“I have to keep them wanting to play their hardest for me,” she said. “I have to make them feel the way I feel about them, which is joy to have them on the other side of the table from me.”
Now retired, 74-year-old Terranova has a laundry list of accolades and achievements, including dozens of national titles as well as 30 gold medals in six different sports.
Her specialty is table tennis.
“It’s an addiction for me, but it’s a beautiful addiction,” she said.
That’s probably why this ping pong junkie plays and coaches at the Broward Table Tennis Center every day.
“It’s a little bit ridiculous,” she said.
“Honestly, I don’t know what Terese would be doing if she wasn’t playing table tennis,” said former college football player Kevin Grant. “This is her thing. I think if she had to stop, I think it could be some problems.”
Due to a car accident, Terranova has been confined to a wheelchair for the last 51 years of her life, but she does not allow her disability to affect her greatness.
“I always remember what my mom told me, that I could do anything in my life if I wanted it enough, so everything I do, I do to the best of my abilities and the best of the ability for the person I’m dealing with, whether it’s sports, whether it’s friendship, whether it’s love,” she said. “It’s all the same to me.”
Terranova is more than just a coach to all her students.
“You can win all the tournaments, all the medals, but it’s not the feeling you feel when your coach is your mama, your friend. It’s everything,” said Colombian table tennis champion Aura Cristina Ocampo Lopez.
“To me personally, she means the world to me,” said Cuban table tennis champion Ariel Montalvo. “I mean, she’s like my second mom.”
Mother Terese has a really nice ring to it.
“I created an incredible family and they’re just like they were mine,” she said.
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