The air-bending serves, the deep volleys and the overhead smash — it's table tennis at the highest level. The flurry of action all plays out on a 9-foot-by-5-foot table. And one top player is aiming for another triumph at an age when most athletes are long retired.
Olympic-caliber athletes in peak form are usually under age 30. Dan Seemiller is nowhere near that age. He's old enough to be an Olympian's grandfather. But we learned that age is just a number for the 65-year-old, reports CBS News correspondent Omar Villafranca.
Seemiller is a stud in American table tennis. He turned pro at 18 and became the No. 1 ranked American player. His triumphs were featured twice in Sports Illustrated and he shocked the world in 1977 when he teamed up with his brother, Rick, and defeated the No. 1 ranked Chinese team. He coached two men's U.S. national teams at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics. He's been in the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame since 1995.
"Are you the LeBron James of American table tennis?" Villafranca asked.
"Well, I don't know. As a kid when I was training, I used to think that when I'm done I want to be known as the greatest American player ever," Seemiller said.
"You think you are?"
"Well, that's not for me to say, but my resume is pretty strong," Seemiller said.
Instead of retiring, he's looking to add one more highlight to his resume: Olympic athlete at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.
For Seemiller, the road to Tokyo begins in New Carlisle, Indiana. Every morning starts with a workout. He's eating right and getting back into playing shape.
When he's not working on his game, he's a world-class coach, hosting clinics and running a competitive table tennis club. His friends and fans have set up a GoFundMe page because training full time is expensive. There are travel costs, tournament fees — and even the coach needs a coach.
The lefty has a secret weapon. He plays with an old-school grip on the paddle that could give him the upper hand on the competition.
"My grip is unique because I am using forehand red side and when I go over, I flip and still use the red side," Seemiller said.
It's known in table tennis as the Seemiller Grip. Yes, he invented and perfected it decades ago. But no one uses it anymore. So he's banking on it to surprise his opponents.
At the 2019 U.S. Open Table Tennis Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, he played well, beating opponents more than 40 years younger than him, like 22-year-old Deven Deleon.
"To be able to play against such a legend especially in Unites States table tennis is a great honor and I don't feel any shame in being beat by somebody so good," Deleon said. "That serve he's got is crazy."
"Now I'm 65 and I'm training really hard and I don't know where it's gonna go, but my wife says, she says she knows I can do it, so who knows?" Seemiller said.
He's not just doing it for himself.
"It's for everybody and it's also that anyone that's older, you know, that if you really concentrate on your techniques and you believe in yourself you can do great in any sport," Seemiller said.
As for his Olympic dreams, there is one spot left on the men's U.S. Olympic table tennis team, and he has to earn it at the Olympic qualifying tournament in late February.