Hundreds of athletes compete in Georgia Golden Olympics

awoolen@macon.comSeptember 20, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- The combined amount of experience in the McIntyre Room Friday totaled more than 100 years.

Charlie Slater has been playing table tennis for 61 years, since he was 9 years old.

“It’s a sport I can keep up with,” the 70-year-old said with a smile. “What you lack in speed, you make up for in cunning.”

Slater, who lives in Decatur, has been coming to the Georgia Golden Olympics for three years now. He also participates in numerous table tennis tournaments throughout the year.

The Georgia Golden Olympics had 440 athletes this year participating not only in table tennis but swimming, track and field as well as cycling.

The event was held Sept. 18 through Saturday.

Slater, a former computer programmer for Delta, started a table tennis club in Decatur and has 12 tables set up.

Rene Nielsen, who was Slater’s partner in the men’s doubles, said he enjoys the mental aspect of the game.

“There’s a lot of tactical elements and a surprising amount of conditioning,” Nielsen said.

Lennox Drakes, of Lithonia, started playing in the 1960s. Now 60 himself, spectators watched in awe of his moves while he warmed up.

Nielsen played against Drakes in the men’s singles where Nielsen lost but had nothing but praise for his opponent’s skill.

“When he’s playing someone at his level, he’s great to watch,” Nielsen said.

The Rockdale Senior Center brought 10 people to play table tennis.

Dorothea Cox said the group from Conyers has been coming to Warner Robins for four years to play in the games.

She and her fellow athletes worried about facing some of the other participants as they watched warm ups. There were times the ball was going so fast with volleys, it was just a blur.

Both Nielson and Slater pointed out the sport has a lot of international athletes. It is also good for any age group.

“It’s quite a sport,” said Slater.

 

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