Commonwealth Games: Round-of-16 finishes high point of Table Tennis team
When Natalie Cummings and Chelsea Edghill fell on Saturday in the Round-of-16 of the Women’s Doubles to New Zealand’s Chunyi Feng and Yangzi Liu, it ended Guyana’s participation in Table Tennis at the Commonwealth Games, in Birmingham, England.
According to a release from the Guyana Olympic Association through Press Attaché, Rawle Toney, the New Zealand pair defeated Cummings and Edghill 3 – 0 (11-2, 11-6, 11-4).
Cummings and Edghill, playing in the women’s doubles, had defeated their South African counterparts Zodwa Maphanga and Jayavant Patel 4-1 (11-3, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8) to set up a Round-of-16 clash with Feng and Liu.
The Guyanese duo had a remarkable run, all while creating history along the way, becoming the first female pair to reach the Round-of-16.
Though failing to land any medals Guyana’s Table Tennis contingent wrapped up their participation in with at least one mission accomplished.
Coached by Linden Johnson and Idi Lewis, the country’s females, in the Teams’ event, the country finished fifth behind Singapore (Gold), Malaysia (Silver), Australia (Bronze), Wales, Canada and England.
However, Guyana’s paddlers served their way into the annals of the sport’s history, thanks to Natalie Cummings in the singles, and doubles with Chelsea Edghill, and Men’s doubles pair Shemar Britton and Christopher Franklin.
Cummings played in what was described by many as one of the best matches at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, where she went on to win a seven-set nail-biting round-of-32 match against Mauritius’ Ruqayyah Kinoo of Mauritius.
The win placed Cummings and Guyana in the Round-of-16 where she would eventually lose 0-4 to Wales’ 16-year-old prodigy, Anna Hursey.
Debutant and teen sensations, Thauria Thomas and Johnathan Van Lange showed a lot of promise at their first Commonwealth Games, despite not getting out of the first round of their respective competitions.
Asked about the country’s performance at the Commonwealth Games, Coach Lewis said the players did better than expected, but was critical of the lack of investment in the sport locally.
“When you take into consideration the team’s preparation coming into these games and coming up against more heavily-funded athletes at these games, I think they’re performing way beyond expectations right now,” Lewis said.
He added, “when you talk about being on-par, everything comes back to funding. It’s hard to get away from that aspect. There’s no shortage of talent in Guyana and that’s not just table tennis.”
The popular Table Tennis coach is calling for a drastic change in the approach to sports in Guyana, noting “you see some athletes this year and when you see them back next year, you’re seeing the gap widening. We’re still able to hold our own, but the gap is widening every day, so we need to change the way sport is being governed and the investment into sports.”
Lewis stated that in comparison to the players at the 22nd Commonwealth Games, the Table Tennis team overachieved.
Guyana’s Table Tennis squad at the Commonwealth Games:
Men – Shemar Britton (Singles, Doubles, Team, Mixed Doubles), Christopher Franklin (Singles, Doubles, Team, Mixed Doubles), Johnathan Van Lange (Singles, Doubles, Team, Mixed Doubles) and Joel Alleyne (Doubles, Team).
Women – Chelsea Edghill (Singles, Doubles, Team, Mixed Doubles), Natalie Cummings (Singles, Doubles, Team, Mixed Doubles), Priscila Greaves (Singles, Doubles, Team) and Thuraia Thomas (Doubles, Team, Mixed Doubles).