Edghill and Britton head Team Guyana at Olympic Qualifiers in Argentina
By Akeem Greene
Professional Table Tennis player, Chelsea Edghill, and former Caribbean Under-21 champion, Shemar Britton, are the leading names on Guyana’s contingent for the Latin American Singles and Mixed Doubles, which serves as a qualification event for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020.
Reigning national champion, Natalie Cummings, and the ever-improving Joel Alleyne are the other players, while the experienced Idi Lewis will act as coach for the event, which runs from April 13-17 in Rosario, Argentina.
Reigning national Men’s champion, Christopher Franklin, respectfully declined to compete due to his lack of adequate preparation. The contingent arrived in Argentina on Monday morning.
With regards to qualification, it will be decided by the top three for the females and the top four for males.
There are 21 females seeded, with Edghill at 18 and Cummings at 21, while of the 24 men, Britton is at 21 and Alleyne 23.
Two Mixed Doubles teams will also be selected; Edghill and Britton will represent Guyana in the Mixed Doubles qualifier.
In an invited comment, Coach Lewis stated, “I’m in no position to speak on chances, but what I can say is Table Tennis is one of the hardest if not the hardest sport to qualify for the Olympics because the region is huge and we only get a few spots.”
The former national player further stated: “The players they are up against are all professionals that are heavily funded by their government and Olympic associations and I don’t have to tell you how it is in Guyana. Nonetheless, we’re here and very grateful for the opportunity; my players are all in great spirits and ready to represent Guyana to the fullest as always. Our plan is to take one game, one match at a time.”
President of the Guyana Table Tennis Association (GTTA), Godfrey Munroe, felt Edghill, who is based in Portugal, will offer the team’s best chance to qualify.
“In terms of the prospects, I think Chelsea has a great prospect of qualification. I think she was a recent qualifier for the Pan-American Games and the next step is the Olympic Games. Some of the same players she defeated to gain qualification to the Pan-Am Games will be there and we are hoping that her experience from playing in a professional league in Portugal will help her.”
Guyana Table Tennis Association President Godfrey Munroe said, apart from the quest of Olympic Qualification, it is important for players to gain international rankings as they position themselves for key tournaments in the future.
He added that the budget for the team is approximately G$5 Million and the Guyana Olympic Association provided a significant part of the funding.
Munroe indicated that the players are safe inside the ‘bubble’ and are adjusting well ahead of first round ties.