Pickleball among sports featured at Golden Olympics

awoolen@macon.comSeptember 18, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- A cross between tennis, ping pong and badminton, pickleball is the newest sport at the Georgia Golden Olympics.

Played with a large paddle and a ball with holes of varying sizes, opponents serve and volley much like tennis.

William and Sheila Slye first started playing eight months ago while living in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Bonaire residents liked it so much, they bought their own graphite paddles and decided to participate in the state games for the first time.

“It’s really good exercise,” said William Slye, who retired from the Macon Police Department in 1994.

William Slye, 72, fell in love with pickle ball after playing just once.

“It was so much fun,” he said.

The couple hope interest in the sport grows enough to get a league, so they can have more people to play with. In North Carolina, they said, the courts had waiting lines for pickle ball because it was popular.

Started in the 1960s in Washington, the sport was introduced to the National Senior Games in 2008, according to the USA Pickleball Association website.

“This is better than doing cardio in the gym,” said Sheila Slye.

They practice at Ted Wright Park in Warner Robins at the tennis courts, but the ground is cracked which makes it hard to predict where the ball will go if it bounces on a crack.

If the sport gains interest, they hope there will be a dedicated facility to use. The pickleball tournament will be held at the Warner Robins Recreation Department gym Wednesday at 10 a.m. for doubles and Thursday at 2 p.m. for singles.

The Golden Olympics will start Wednesday and go through Saturday at various locations around Warner Robins.

Ballroom dancing is being brought back to the olympics as well after a few years hiatus.

“We’re looking forward to having it again,” said Mary Ealer, who does public relations for the Georgia Golden Olympics.

The association is looking for volunteers to work during the event. With 450 participants, “there is a need,” said Ealer.

Spectators have free admission to all of the sporting events. Not open to the public is the awards dinner.

For more information, visit www.georgiagoldenolympics.org.

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