The Hunter sporting community was in mourning after the death of pionering table tennis champion Gary Haberl on Monday night at the age of 54 at Nulkaba.
In 1988, Haberl became the first Australian to compete at an Olympic Games in table tennis.
A five-time Australian champion, Haberl retired in 1989 at age 24 after more than 200 matches for his country. He was unbeaten against Australians for three years before his retirement.
"Even to this day, when he pulled out a bat, he would still win a lot of matches in the veterans class, and even against the young ones," his brother, Robert Haberl, said.
"I always defended him as the best ever Australian player. And all the fellow players respected and liked him."