The Over 80 Hall of Famers at the 2018 WVC

By Larry Hodges | June 19, 2018, 12:11 a.m. (ET)


George Braithewaite a.k.a The Chief, a member of the original 1971 Ping Pong Diplomacy Team

They are no longer the highest rated of their age in the U.S. - that honor belongs to Tay Chong of Alhambra, CA and the California TTC, rated 2188 and 80 years old. But USATT Hall of Famers George Brathwaite and Richard Hicks have long and storied pasts, and here at the World Veterans, until proven otherwise, they are two of the players to beat in Over 80 Men.

George Brathwaite, 84, from New York, still plays 4-5 times a week. He also coaches once a week in Manhattan. He spent many years working at the United Nations, where he discovered the United Nations Table Tennis Club. Know as a fitness expert, even now he looks like an athlete - and long ago, before table tennis, he was a track star, winning medals in the 400 meter relay and the 100 meter sprint at the 1958 Caribbean Games, where he represented his native Guyana. He has won every senior age event in table tennis multiple times, from Over 40 to Over 80, and was a member of the 1983 Pan Am Team.

Richard Hicks, 80, from the Indianapolis TTC, has also won every senior age event multiple times, with the notable exception of Over 40. His dominance started with Over 50. He and George have battled in numerous finals over the years. Richard spent years as a civil engineer where he designed highways. He got bored with that, and seeing an ad, he took some training and became a forensic engineering consultant. He still works at that part time.


Richard Hicks, represents the USA at the 2018 World Veteran Championships

Another fascinating aspect of these three are their playing styles. Tay is a vintage pips-out penholder with an extremely quick, off-the-bounce block. George was a conventional two-winged inverted spinner before that style was convention. Richard is a chopper with long pips on the backhand and spinny inverted on the forehand.

Another well-known athlete in the 80-84 Men's Singles is Sir Peter Snell of New Zealand, but he's known for something else - a three-time Olympic gold medalist in 800 meters (twice) and 1500 meters, setting five world records. He held the world mile record from 1962-1964 at 3min 54 sec (and he told me he later ran a 3:53). Here's the USATT profile of him from June 5.