Editor’s Note: If your idea of a senior citizen is someone who sits around idly and who has lost the zest for life, you haven’t meet the hundreds of local seniors who compete each year in the DeKalb Senior Olympics. They bring their competitive spirit to these games that range from line dancing, swimming, tennis, water volleyball, golf, bowling, track and field and plenty more. The Senior Olympics will be held May 10-20 at various locations throughout the county. Opening ceremonies are planned for 10 a.m. on May 10 at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts and Community Center.
When Charlie Slater was 9 and living in the Bronx, he got hooked on playing table tennis. Decades later, Slater is still at it.
He’s mastered loopers, backspin pushes and chiseling over the years and will be bringing years of competition as well as his desire to win to the 15th annual DeKalb Senior Olympics, May 10-20. Table tennis will be played at the Decatur Recreation Center, 231 Sycamore St. on May 11 (singles) and May 13 (doubles).
Slater, who is credited with establishing table tennis locally, has competed widely in the United States and abroad. This past March the program reached its one-year anniversary.
Now a retired Delta Air Lines computer programmer, Slater, 66, said table tennis can be played and enjoyed for a lifetime.
“I can still do the kind of acuity needed for this sport,” said Slater. “I don’t think I could play soccer or basketball. Knock wood, my reflexes are still there. I still feel I am near the top of my game.”
Slater, who used his used his lunch hour at Delta to polish his table tennis game, has traveled throughout the country and internationally competing. In 1999, he attended a tournament in Zurich. He once competed in the U.S. nationals in Palo Alto, Calif., and he still attends the three-day Huntsman World Senior Games held annually in St. George, Utah in August.
And every Tuesday night, Slater, who resides in Decatur, along with 30 other folks can be found at the Decatur Recreation Center.
Slater has been preparing for the DeKalb Senior Games by playing three hours a week as well as briskly walking a mile regularly with eight-pound weights in each hand.