Pauline Jensen, top left, won gold in women’s singles and women’s doubles at the Maryland Senior Olympics Ping Pong Tournament at Potomac Community Recreation Center Saturday, July 27. Here she begins mixed doubles with partner Carl Bumiller playing Mi Kim and Richard Asendorf.
Photo by Peggy McEwan
More than 70 competitors turned out Saturday for the Maryland Senior Olympics Ping Pong Tournament at Potomac Community Recreation Center.
Men and women age 50 and above came from across the state to compete in Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles competitions.
Fifty is the minimum age for Senior Olympics participation but Saturday’s competitors included those in their 60s and 70s, and seven players in their 80s.
“Ping pong is a perfect sport for older people,” Pauline Jensen, 63, of Columbia, said. “It’s supposed to help your brain with eye-hand coordination and it’s safe.” She said she also likes the socialization she gets from being part of the sport.
Jensen played ping pong while in grad school, but never learned the rules. After renewing her interest in the sport, she learned the rules and began competing.
Saturday, she won gold in women’s singles, women’s doubles and was about to compete in mixed doubles.
Age is no excuse for slowing down for Herman Yeh, of Potomac, who will be 80 this year.
Yeh runs the Potomac Community Recreation Center table tennis club, which plays two times each week at the center. He coordinated Saturday’s tournament along with Stacy Sigler, Recreation Supervisor for Senior Olympics with Montgomery County Recreation.
As a tournament coordinator, Yeh could not compete Saturday, but he said ping pong is a very serious sport, one that can be played year-round.
It is so popular that the Potomac Table Tennis Club, which is limited to 100 members has a waiting list of 30 to 40.
Among his work Saturday was to remind spectators and players that Paddle Palace, from Tigard Oregon, was a major sponsor.
Paddle Palace provided 6,000 table tennis balls for Saturday’s play.
Somchai Paarporn, of North Potomac, won bronze in the men’s single 65-69 group.
He said he has been playing for more than 20 years.
“I really enjoy it when I play,” he said. “It’s very challenging and we know each other like friends. We laugh more than we are serious.”
Jensen reiterated the serious fun of the sport.
“Sometimes you win because they mess up more than you do,” she said.
To Participate Is To Win
Maryland Senior Olympics events are going on all through August and into the fall.
Montgomery County Recreation is the host agency for the Maryland Senior Olympics, with many of the events happening in Montgomery County.
To compete in Maryland Senior Olympics, you do not have to be a seasoned athlete or champion in training. You only have to be age 50+ and willing to participate. In fact, MSO's motto is, "To Participate is to Win!"
Upcoming events include track and field, pickleball, bicycling, volleyball, basketball, swimming and much more.
For more information, including registration info and event schedules, visit Maryland Senior Olympics, follow on social media at Facebook www.facebook.com/mdseniorolympics and Twitter twitter.com/mdsrolympics, or call 240-777-4930.