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Texas woman, 88, is a table tennis world champion

September 16, 2013

Today's older adults are more active than in previous generations, so it's not unusual to see seniors hitting the tennis court, taking to the track or jumping in the pool. But one woman from Texas is not content to merely stay physically fit. Lisa Modlich, 88, is a world champion table tennis player, and her story is set to be featured in a documentary aptly titled "Ping Pong," which will debut Sept. 9 on PBS stations across the U.S., Next Avenue reported.

A compelling life
Modlich began playing table tennis about 20 years ago after it became too hot for her to play tennis outside. Although her success at ping pong is her latest achievement, it is certainly not the only reason her life is documentary-worthy. Born in Vienna, she can speak five languages fluently, and before she moved to the U.S., she fought as part of the French Resistance during World War II.

After picking up table tennis, Modlich quickly got into the competitive spirit. She won the over-80 section of the 2010 World Veterans Table Tennis Championships, and despite missing 2012's due to injury, is confident that she will be back in 2014. It's going to be hard for her to give up the sport, especially given how successful she is. 

"You get a high after you play," she told Next Avenue. "I don't drink, but I think it's almost like being drunk when you win a medal."

She's not alone
Competitive sports have become a common aspect of senior living, and anyone who needs convincing need look no further than National Senior Games, which were held earlier this summer. The events are a bit different than what you might find in the Olympics, and they include sports on the rise such as pickleball. The activity, which is somewhat of a hybrid between ping pong and tennis, is especially popular among the senior population, according to NPR. In fact, there are an estimated 150,000 pickleball players across the U.S.

"Everyone knows your age because of the games," athlete Rosemarie Pietromonaco told the news source. "It's just not something that we're ashamed of. We're proud of it because we're [still] playing."

Some of the other sports to make the cut include shuffleboard, golf, horseshoes and track and field. .