By Matt Williams
---- — Mardee Goldberg went to the National Senior Games in Cleveland last week looking to enjoy herself and, hopefully, get through the competition.
The Beverly native and retired Danvers teacher did even better than she expected, taking home a bronze medal in singles table tennis for her age group (65-69).
Goldberg also got a ribbon for finishing in the top six in mixed doubles and participated in the pickleball competition.
The achievement was a special one for Goldberg, who was competing with an injured hip.
“It was very rewarding. You think about being top three in the country and that’s pretty good. I was really excited,” she said. “I’m having surgery soon, and with the bad hip I wasn’t moving around much, so to play the way I did felt great.”
Goldberg had to defeat some ranked players en route to the bronze in what was her second trip to the National Senior Games. She also attended in 2009, when they were held in San Francisco, though she didn’t earn a medal or ribbon four years ago.
“This was the best I’ve done and I was injured. I’m very proud to have done that,” said Goldberg, who came away impressed by the atmosphere in Cleveland.
“There were probably close to 12,000 athletes.
There were 8,000 people in the Cavaliers’ basketball arena for some of the ceremonies.
The city was really welcoming for all of us, and it’s amazing to see anybody over 50 out there playing these games, looking 20 years younger and playing remarkably well.”
Splitting her time between Beverly and The Villages in Florida, qualified for the nationals by earning a ribbon or medal at the state level.
She won a gold medal in New Hampshire with Paul Miller in the mixed doubles pickleball competition at the state level and has also competed in Massachusetts.
In fact, it was the first year pickleball was included in the nationals, Goldberg said. One of the fastest growing sports, pickleball is a mixture of badminton, table tennis and tennis.
It’s played on a 22x44 court, with a net similar to a tennis net but positioned lower, and is played with a hard paddle and a ball smaller than but similar to a wiffle ball.
“We’ve started teaching it at the Beverly Y and it’s really easy to learn,” Goldberg said.
“My doubles partner at The Villages, Deb Harrison, is the No. 2 player in the nation in pickleball. She teaches it and she’s great at it.
“It’s a very fast game and it is challenging and rewarding.”