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Ray Pestridge article from the Tulsa World on 7-18-11

Training nets 2 gold medals at 74

Ray Pestridge of Stillwater practices table tennis recently at Bixby Community Center. Pestridge won two gold medals at the Summer National Senior Games. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World
By AMANDA BLAND World Staff Writer
Published: 7/18/2011 2:22 AM
Last Modified: 7/18/2011 2:39 AM

Ray Pestridge of Stillwater drives about 140 miles at least two or three times a week to train in Tulsa.

The 74-year-old comes at the ready in gym shorts and a loose-fitting T-shirt to test his hand-eye coordination and strategies, and those of his opponents, with some fast-paced table tennis.

The sweat on Bob Kyker's brow shows the physical and mental demands of table tennis and of playing against Pestridge.

And though Pestridge describes himself as a passive player, Kyker said Pestridge destroyed the competition at the 2011 Summer National Senior Games.

At one point, Pestridge led one opponent by seven points, a sizable lead in the sport. First to 11 points wins.

He won the singles gold medal for his age division at the games, which were June 16-30 in Houston.

Then, with the help of partner Glendale Markwell of Meeker, he also brought home a doubles championship.

"It feels really neat to win," Pestridge said. "It doesn't happen very often that you're able to win two gold medals."

Pestridge is a USA Table Tennis and International Table Tennis Federation-certified coach. Kyker, of Tulsa, is his student.

Fifty years experience with the sport is part of Pestridge's advantage.

He grew up in England and began playing competitively at 16.

It was a local league, and in the beginning, they lost every game, he said during one of the Tulsa Table Tennis Club's weekly practices at the Dawson Community Center, 2035 N. Kingston Place, on Monday.

He's competed off and on through the years but joined the club last year to prepare for this year's senior games.

He placed in state competition, which qualified him to participate in the national games.

Qualifying individuals age 50 or older participate in the National Senior Games, which include sports such as horseshoes, swimming, basketball and archery.

More than 10,000 competed in this year's games, Pestridge said.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20110718_11_A2_CUTLIN302208&archive=yes

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