By Treiston Joseph
At the end of the Caribbean Cadet and Junior Table Tennis Championships on Tuesday at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall, the Dominican Republic was the obvious powerhouse, having amassed 23 medals; 12 being gold, four silvers and seven bronze.
It was a magnificent effort by the Latin American nation as their players simply dominated in almost every category; with their most shocking downfall being their Under-18 star, Mariano Lockward.
Lockward was touted as the favourite to win the Under-18 Boys event, especially with six months spent in China training ahead of the tournament; however, the Latin American racquet wielder was unable to medal.
Barbados was second on the medal table, despite having fewer medals than Guyana; but due to their greater gold medal-count usurped Guyana who finished with no gold.
Barbados had six medals- two golds, two silvers and two bronze- while Guyana had 10 medals overall with three being silver and seven bronze. Bajan Tyrese Knight, who is world ranked, won the Boys Under-18 Singles by defeating Luc O’Young of Trinidad and Tobago 4-0 (11-6, 11-9, 11-4, 12-10).
Meanwhile, Guyana had only one Singles competitor finish on the podium and that was Priscilla Greaves, who won bronze in the Girls Under-18 category. Esmerlyn Castro of the Dominican Republic, who was favoured to win the event, produced the goods to claim the gold medal by defeating Shelly Machado 4-0 (11-9, 11-6, 13-11, 11-7).
Greaves noted that the moment was bitter-sweet for her because none of her teammates was able to medal, but was thankful that she did her country proud.
The Dominican Republic swept the Girls Under-15 Singles category with Rosa Torres winning gold by defeating her teammate Ideisa Baez 3-1 (11-8, 11-7, 5-11, 11-9). Estefany Rodriguez and Dahyanna Rojas won joint bronze.
The Dominican Republic players were looking for a top two finish in the Boys Under-15 Singles, but Chen Ho Cheung of Aruba spoiled the fun by winning silver, while Ronaldo Tejada of the Dominican Republic won gold after defeating Ho Cheung 3-0 (11-1, 11-9, 11-6). Steff Gutierrez of the Dominican Republic won bronze.
President of the Guyana Table Tennis Association (GTTA), Godfrey Munroe, hailed the event as a success, noting that it really was a litmus test for Guyana on all fronts in terms of showing capacity and exposing local table tennis talent.
Munroe also noted that Guyana has a bright future because most of the player were under aged in the various categories, but played at a really high level.
Meanwhile, five other prizes were instituted for the first time in the tournament and were the brainchild of Munroe, with Guyana winning the award for Best Team Support, Trinidad and Tobago winning the Most Entertaining and Social Media award, St Vincent and the Grenadines winning Most Discipline, St Lucia winning Most Improved and Dominican Republic winning the Most Outstanding Team.