TALENT—At 72 years old, Waqidi Falicoff has practically been working his whole life.
An accomplished musician, architect and professor, he’s spent much of his time channeling skills learned in other fields to carve out a career in table tennis.
"It just was a very interesting combination of athleticism and sports and technology," Falicoff said.
On the technology front, one might know him as the designer of the first ever computer controlled robot for the 1992 US Olympic ping pong team.
"We made sure that the machine could go above world class level. That is, we could make shots that no players in the world could make," he said.
Success on the national level led to his local company in Ashland.
For six years, he invented products so advanced, some of them have been banned from competition.
It was a time in his life of high intensity and maximum brain power, which makes his current situation all the more enjoyable. He’s again appreciating ping pong for the purity of the sport, and for the most part, has gone from innovator to player.
"When I went out to show my product, I didn't want to look like I was just a hacker," he said.
As a result, he honed his skills. And along with preparing for upcoming tournaments in Portland and San Diego, he’s also gearing up for the World Veterans Championships in Las Vegas in June.
In NewsWatch 12’s Amateur Athlete, Jake Garcia gives an inside look at Falicoff’s style of play, which he describes as “aggressive” and atypical for someone his age.