The Jamaica Table Tennis Association finds itself in a race against time to raise approximately US$33,000 to fund a 12-member team to the Pan American Youth Championships set to serve off from September 12-19 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Jamaica plans to send U19 and U15 teams to the championships but according to JTTA President Andrew Lue, while the association has a team on paper, they need to raise the funds that will enable them to confirm participation by September 3.

“We have received permission for all players in the team events to also play singles, doubled and mixed doubles so it’s an excellent opportunity for not only the athletes but for Jamaica to gain international ranking points. The US$33,000 (approximately J$5million) will go towards travel, accommodations, entry fees, gear, Covid tests and stipends,” Lue told Sportsmax. TV.

“International competitions are an integral part of our strategic development and Olympic road map for Paris 2024.”

The full team includes Tsenaye Lewis, Kelsey Davidson, national women’s champion Solesha Young, Neveah Scott, Joel Butler, Jon Pierre Daley, Christopher Lyn, Jayden Ebanks, Brian Blake, Matthew Fung, Garu Whyte and Rasheed Clarke.

There are four players to each team, Lue explained, U19 girls, U19 boys and U15 boys. The players who have qualified to play singles are Davidson, Lewis and Alessio Tulloch. However, Tulloch is unable to go and will be replaced by Rasheed Clarke, who won the U19 title at the recent national championships.

However, everything depends on if the JTTA can raise the money required.

Simon Tomlinson and Solesha Young successfully defended their national titles as the curtains came down on Jamaica’s national table tennis championships at the National Indoor Sports Centre last Thursday.

Tomlinson, who was winning his fifth national title, defeated Peter Moo-Young, 9-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7, for a 4-1 victory. Meanwhile, 17-year-old Young defeated Tsenaye Lewis 11-7, 11-3, 1-12, 11-3, 11-5 for the Women’s title.

Young also won the U21 female title and the Women’s Rural Singles Open title.

“The Women's Open title is the one that means the most to me simply because it tells everyone that I am the number-one female in the country. Two-time national champion; that for me, is an awesome achievement at age 17,” said Young, who said preparing for the competition presented its own challenges.

“Overall, my performance was outstanding despite limited training, the Covid-19 pandemic and preparation for CSEC exams I had to use strategy and tactics to defend my title.”

She revealed that in some instances she was only able to train twice a month because access to training facilities was limited because of the pandemic.

Tomlinson, meanwhile, said he it was not an easy path to the title.

“I went into the finals trying to be as calm as possible. I had a major battle in the semi-finals with David Williams, a veteran player who is now based in England, and that result was 4-3 so I had a trying match in the semi-finals, so going into the final I had to calm myself and go in with a good match plan, a good strategy and outwit Peter,” Tomlinson said.

“He is a very intelligent, crafty player.”

Tomlinson said that primarily because of the pandemic, he didn’t get a chance to play that much, especially after he came up short on his bid to qualify for the Olympics in April. However, that experience helped him navigate the challenging rounds of the national championships.

“The Olympic qualification was the most preparation I had going into this tournament, granted that was three/four months ago but it was the only work I was able to put in given the restrictions that we have had in Jamaica because of Covid so I was heavily reliant on that preparation and the knowledge that I had gained heading into the Olympics and it definitely helped. It kept me calm, centred during the matches. At no point, did I overreact or lose my cool. I was able to stay focused and get the job done.”

Other categories winners were as follows:

U13 Girls: Karecea Peterkin, U15 Boys: Jadeen Ebanks, U15 Girls: Tsenaye Lewis, U19 Boys: Rasheed Clarke, U19 Girls: Naveah Scott, U21: Joel Butler, Rural Men: Rudolph Sinclair, Men’s 40: Rudolph.

Andrew Lue, President of the Jamaica Table Tennis Association and runner-up in the Men’s 40 competition, characterized the tournament as a success.

“For the first time, we had the men and women champion winning the same prize money. As a part of our thrust for gender equality we thought it very critical for that to take place for us to set the pace for other sports to follow,” he said.

“Another historic first was that we had our U13 Boys title being shared by Gari Whyte and Brian Blake as that final was unable to be played.”

 

 

 

China remain atop the Olympics Games medal table as they maintained their five-gold buffer over the United States with two on Friday in Tokyo.

The table-toppers head into the penultimate day at the Olympics with their advantage still intact, courtesy of gold in the women's javelin and the men's team table tennis.

Shiying Liu became the first Asian woman to win gold in the javelin, while China extended their perfect record in table tennis since its 2008 introduction – Ma Long becoming the most decorated table tennis Olympian with his fifth triumph.

USA matched China's gold count on day 14, collecting the top spot in the women's beach volleyball and via Gable Steveson's last-second victory in the men's superheavyweight freestyle wrestling.

Japan remain in third place and collected two golds, the first of which came in the women's featherweight freestyle wrestling from Mayu Mukaida with the second following through three-time world champion Ryo Kiyuna, who was crowned the first ever men's kata karate Olympic champion.

After falling down to sixth on Thursday, Great Britain bounced back up to fourth with a pair of golds. Laura Kenny teamed up with Katie Archibald to become the first British female Olympian to triumph at three consecutive Games – winning the women's madison comfortably.

Kate French captured Team GB's other gold in the women's pentathlon, though there could have been a third had the men's 4x100 metre relay team not been pipped at the line by Marcell Jacobs' Italy.

The Russian Olympic Committee sit in fifth on 17 golds, Zaurbek Sidakov securing their sole gold of the day in the men's welterweight freestyle wrestling.

After firing a blank on Friday, Australia – who equalled their best ever medal haul at the Games a day earlier – dropped down to sixth, level with the Russians on 17 golds.

 

The United States cut China's lead at the top of the medal table to five as they collected four golds on day 13 of the Games.

Coming into Thursday's events, China boasted a seven-gold buffer as leaders but that was reduced by the USA's Katie Nageotte in the women's pole vault and Ryan Crouser in the men's shot put – the latter of which became a back-to-back Olympic champion.

More golds followed for the USA, with Nevin Harrison winning the women's single canoe 200m sprint – her country's first medal in either canoe or kayak sprint since 1992 – and David Taylor succeeding in the men's 86kg freestyle wrestling in the last second.

After shooting a blank the previous day, China ensured a five-gold gap going into Friday as the women's table tennis team continued their dominance, overcoming Japan to secure their fourth gold in four consecutive Games.

The table-toppers have now won all four of the women's diving events in Tokyo, too, as 14-year-old Quan Hongchan set a world record in the 10m platform, making it a China one-two with fellow teenager Chen Yuxi.

Defending Olympic champion Risako Kawai, who is also a three-time world champion, triumphed once more in the women's 57kg wrestling freestyle, meaning early leaders Japan remain in third with a gold count of 22.

Australia suffered shoot-out heartbreak in the men's hockey final but climbed up to fourth with men's kayak double 1000m sprint success and their first-ever Olympic gold medal in skateboarding, courtesy of Keegan Palmer's park win.

Their 17 gold medals at the Games with three days to go equalled Australia's best-ever haul, matching the total they collected at Athens in 2004. 

The Russian Olympic Committee leaped up a spot to fifth as Zaur Uguev was crowned champion in the men's 57kg wrestling freestyle and Albert Batyrgaziev fought to gold in the men's featherweight boxing.

Great Britain, who now boast 16 medals after winning just the one event on Thursday, slipped back down to sixth position with Matthew Walls' omnium gold ending Team GB's frustrating unsuccessful spell in the cycling track events.

 

China bounced clear of Japan at the top of the medal table at the Tokyo Olympics thanks in part to a gold medal in trampolining.

Xueying Zhu edged out compatriot Lingling Liu to win the women’s final, maintaining the country's dominance in the event. Only at the Sydney Games in 2000 has China ever failed to have a competitor make it onto the podium.

There was also an all-China final in table tennis, Ma Long defeating compatriot Fan Zhendong in the men's singles final.

Add in further success in the mixed doubles final in badminton and China now has 19 golds at these Games, two more than the host nation.

The United States sit third in the standings with 14 golds, while Great Britain remain in sixth place thanks to Beth Schriever riding away with a gold in the women’s BMX final.

New Zealand improved on their previous solitary gold with not one but two victories in the water on Friday. Emma Twigg's win in the women's single sculls final was followed by glory for the men's eight. The women's team in the same discipline claimed silver, finishing second to Canada.

Ethiopia celebrated a first medal of any colour on Japanese soil, Selemon Barega triumphant in the men's 10,000 metres final as the athletics began, a fast finish seeing him cross the line ahead of Ugandan duo Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo.

 

Selemon Barega took the first athletics gold of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on a day when Novak Djokovic saw his Golden Slam hopes ended.

Barega topped the podium for Ethiopia as he saw off competition from Ugandan duo Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo on Friday.

The 21-year-old ran a smart race and had the stronger finish in him to see off pre-race favourite Cheptegei, who took silver ahead of compatriot Kiplimo.

"It means a lot to me because I have been practising a lot, not only by myself but together with the Ethiopian people," said Barega, who quickly sets his sights on future success.

"As an athlete the primary target for us is to participate in the Olympics, be a champion, and also be able to break the record.

"So I'm really thinking about future opportunities for me to achieve that, and if possible I'm also communicating with my manager about that."

There was no such joy for Djokovic as his bid to become the first man to win a calendar Golden Slam was crushed by a semi-final defeat to Alexander Zverev.

Djokovic was a set and a break up but the Serbian contrived to lose eight games in a row en route to a 1-6 6-3 6-1 loss.

Germany's Zverev had sympathy for his beaten opponent, who he declared as the greatest of all time.

He said: "I know that he was chasing history, chasing the Golden Slam and chasing the Olympics, but in these kind of moments me and Novak are very close. Of course I'm happy that I've won, but at the end of the day I know how Novak feels.

"I feel sorry for Novak, but he's won 20 grand slams, 550 Masters Series or whatever, you can't have everything.

"He's the greatest player of all time, he will win the most grand slams out of anybody on tour, but I'm also happy that I'm in the final."

Defeat in the mixed doubles means the 20-time grand slam champion will face two bronze medal matches in Japan.

 

MIXED RELAY WOES FOR USA

The 4x400 metre relay mixed event made its debut in the Olympics on Friday but it did not go well for the favourites as the United States suffered disqualification.

One of the team's baton exchanges was deemed to have taken place outside the designated zone, ending their campaign and leaving the gold medal up for grabs.

Poland qualified fastest with a time of three minutes 10.44 seconds, with the Netherlands close behind and Jamaica also in the mix.

 

SCHAUFFELE LEADS THE WAY IN RAIN-AFFECTED MEN'S GOLF

Xander Schauffele fired a 63 to move top of the leaderboard at Tokyo 2020, while home favourite Hideki Matsuyama and Rory McIlroy made big moves on Friday.

The threat of serious weather caused another delay on day two, and eventually brought an early end to play with Matsuyama among those not to finish his round.

But Schauffele, who has a big following in Japan as his mother was brought up in the country, sat pretty at 11 under as the stellar names bared their teeth at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

Matsuyama was six under through 16 holes of his second round and eight under overall for the tournament.

McIlroy matched Matsuyama's round-one score but shot five under in round two and is well in the mix four shots back.

 

A LONG TIME COMING

Ma Long took gold in the table tennis as he became the first man to win consecutive Olympics titles in the event.

It was an all-Chinese final and Ma roared to victory against Fan Zhendong.

China also secured a one-two in the badminton mixed doubles.

 

IGLESIAS CAN BE CUBA'S HERO

Cuban welterweight fighter Roniel Iglesias earned a third Olympic medal after sinking American Delante Johnson with a sweep of the scorecards.

After a bronze in Beijing and gold at London in 2012, Iglesias savoured another chance to target the top step of the podium.

The 32-year-old said: "It is my third medal which is very important but what I really want is to win the gold medal. It is a historic moment for me and for my country, Cuba. I am very happy at this achievement."

Light heavyweight Ben Whittaker admitted he was a blubbering mess after securing at least a bronze medal for Great Britain. He set up a semi-final against Imam Khataev – representing the Russian Olympic Committee – after scoring a majority points win over Brazilian Keno Machado.

Whittaker was overwhelmed by the result and burst into tears at the realisation he would be taking home a medal.

"That was the hard part, getting that medal," Whittaker said. "I won't relax, but I've pushed through that first door now and all I have to do is start changing that colour. Bronze is a lovely colour but everyone wants gold."

 

DRAMA APLENTY IN WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

The quarter-finals of the women's football competition delivered on drama in a big way.

Penalty shoot-outs were needed for Canada and the United States to progress to a last-four showdown, with Brazil and the Netherlands their respective victims.

Australia won a seven-goal thriller 4-3 against Great Britain after extra time and will now meet Sweden, who knocked out hosts Japan 3-1.

China returned to the top of the medal table thanks to swimming and table tennis success at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.

Host nation Japan slipped into second place on another successful day for China, who have racked up 31 medals in total so far at these Games.

Zhang Yufei won the women's 200m butterfly title ahead of American duo Regan Smith and Hali Flickinger at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

The women's 4x200m freestyle relay team also struck gold for China in the pool.

There was table tennis glory for China too, with Chen Meng beating compatriot Sun Yingsha 4-2 in the final at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

China and Japan both have 15 golds so far, the host nation sitting second as they have 25 medals in total.

The United States have the most medals with a haul of 38, as well as sitting just one adrift of China and Japan's tally of golds.

The Russian Olympic Committee and Australia both have eight apiece, the latter benefiting from success for Jessica Fox in the women's C-1 canoe slalom, plus Izaac Stubblety-Cook winning the 200m breaststroke title.

 

Sunisa Lee stepped up in the absence of Simone Biles to claim gold and maintain Team USA’s dominance in the women's gymnastics all-around event.

The 18-year-old became the sixth American woman to take the title – and fifth in a row – after beating Brazil's Rebeca Andrade and Angelina Melnikova to gold.

Despite withdrawing from the final to focus on her mental health, Biles was cheering on from the stands as her team-mate aimed to capitalise.

Lee was looking to continue her nation's impressive record in this event, which has seen triumph concurrently at both the Olympic Games and World Championships since 2010.

The teenager admitted she came close to quitting gymnastics following a difficult two years – both in and out of the gym.

Nevertheless, she duly delivered the goods by totalling 57.433 to take gold and edge out Andrade, who became the first Brazilian woman to claim an Olympic medal in artistic gymnastics.

"It feels crazy, it is so surreal. It's a dream come true," Lee said. "I don't even know what to say. It hasn't even sunk in. The past two years with COVID have been crazy. There was one point I wanted to quit. 

"To be here and to be an Olympic gold medallist is just crazy."

 

PATIENT FOX COMES GOOD

Australia's Jess Fox became the first women's canoe slalom (C1) Olympic gold medallist.

A multiple World champion, Olympic gold has eluded Fox over the years. She was a silver medallist at London in 2012, while she took home a bronze from Rio four years later.

However, her persistence finally paid off after posting a time of 105.04 seconds in the final, while Great Britain's Mallory Franklin and Andrea Herzog of Germany completed the podium.

"I can't believe it," said Fox, who also won bronze in the women's kayak earlier this week.

"I was dreaming of [a gold medal] and I really believed it was within me, but you never know what is going to happen at the Olympics.

"It is about holding your nerve and I probably didn't do that very well in the kayak a couple of days before, so it was hard to get to this point. But it has been incredible to do what I did today."

Guyana’s Chelsea Edghill has confessed to bursting with pride after becoming the first female table tennis player from the English-speaking Caribbean to play at the Olympic Games.  

The former Caribbean women’s under-21 champion made her Olympic Games debut last Saturday, defeating her opponent Sally Yee of Fiji in the preliminary round.  Edghill won that battle emphatically, beating Yee 11-5, 4-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-8.

However, the 24-year-old then suffered a straight-sets defeat at the hands of 17-year-old Yubin Shin of South Korea, in Round One of the Women’s Singles on Saturday.

Overwhelmed by the feat, the Guyanese international shared her experience with SportsMax.tv.

“It was a very happy and emotional feeling to be the first Guyanese to play in the Olympics for table tennis, it’s a huge honour and a huge feat,” Edghill said.

“I am really happy and elated to be able to accomplish such a feat, it’s indescribable how it feels.  I am full with pride, I am very proud to represent Guyana and touch the stage, and very proud of the history I made for Guyana,” she added.

Edghill and swimmer Andrew Fowler were Guyana’s flag bearers at the opening ceremony in Tokyo, Japan, last Friday.

Another superb day for Japan saw the host nation surge to the top of the medal table at the Tokyo Olympic Games on Monday.

Japan now have eight golds after winning Olympic titles in three different sports, the most unexpected of which came in table tennis.

The mixed doubles team of Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito came from two games down to eventually prevail after seven games against China's Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen.

China won all four table tennis titles at Rio 2016 and had been expected to dominate again, only to come unstuck as Japan won the first gold in this new event.

Further joy for Japan came as 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya triumphed in the women's street skateboarding while Shohei Ono was victorious in the men's 73kg category in judo.

Second behind Japan are the United States, who took two shooting golds on day three as well as the men's 4x100m freestyle title in the pool.

China did not add to their tally of six gold medals, one fewer than the USA, having come up short in another event where they had a team of heavy favourites.

Cao Yuan and Chen Aisen were edged out in the men's 10m synchronised platform, with British divers Tom Daley and Matty Lee winning gold.

That was one of three golds for Great Britain, who moved up to fifth in the medal table thanks also to Adam Peaty retaining his 100m breaststroke title and Tom Pidcock dominating in the men's cross-country mountain bike race.

The Russian Olympic Committee sits fourth after adding three golds, the headliner being victory in the men's artistic gymnastics team all-around final. 

Meanwhile, Hidilyn Diaz made history for the Philippines, become the country's first Olympic gold medallist by prevailing in the women's 55kg weightlifting.

 

Hend Zaza's Tokyo 2020 adventure came to a quick end but the youngest Olympian in almost 30 years told youngsters around the world to "fight for your dreams".

Aged only 12 years and 204 days old, Zaza – who was Syria's flagbearer at Friday's opening ceremony – is the youngest competitor at a Games since 11-year-old Carlos Front and and 12-year-old Judit Kiss competed in rowing and swimming for Spain and Hungary respectively in 1992.

Zaza's story is an inspiring one. Her home city of Hama was destroyed by war and finding facilities in which to train can often be a challenge.

She was beaten 11-4 11-9 11-3 11-5 by 39-year-old Austrian Jia Liu, appearing at her sixth Games – three of which in 2000, 2004 and 2008 Zaza was not even born – in Saturday's preliminary round.

"For the last five years I've been through many different experiences, especially when there was the war happening around the country, with the postponement with funding for the Olympics, and it was very tough," Zaza said.

"But I had to fight for it and this is my message to everyone who wishes to have the same situation. Fight for your dreams, try hard, regardless of the difficulties that you're having, and you will reach your goal."

Zaza conceded the excitement of Friday's ceremony coupled with the effects of jet lag may have been contributing factors in her defeat.

"Yesterday we had to start our journey to the Olympic opening ceremony at six o'clock, which is quite early, standing there, or preparing, till 11 or after 11, which is quite a long time," she added. 

"Getting ready for the morning session, plus the jet lag, which is seven hours difference from Syria, both are definitely factors that put me out of my comfort zone."

Opponent Liu revealed how she had some pressure at home from her daughter, explaining: "Everybody knows that losing to someone so young can be a bit embarrassing. 

"Yesterday I asked my daughter, 'do you know your mother is playing against someone two years older than you?' 

"Her first response was 'then you better not lose!' I said 'don't give me pressure!' I did tell the media though that if I did lose I would jump off my balcony. So my daughter said 'if you really lose, please don't jump. You've got to come home.'"

Liu also spoke of her admiration for her young opponent.

"There's sport and there's life. There are people who have to endure difficulties," she added.

"They are amazing, it hasn't been easy for them. She's a girl, too – to be in an Olympics at 12, in my heart I really admire her."

Condolence messages continue to pour in locally and from across the region in reaction to the sudden passing of the immediate past president of the Jamaica Table Tennis Association (JTTA) Godfrey Lothian on Tuesday.

The 65-year-old sports administrator reportedly suffered from a heart attack at his home Tuesday morning and was declared dead at the hospital sending the table tennis, cricket and football fraternities into shock. Lothian served three terms as JTTA President from 2013 to 2019. He was also a member of the board of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA).

He also served the sport of football for decades.

As such, the Kingston and St. Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) said it extended its deepest condolences to the President of Greenwich Town FC and the family of Godfrey Lothian.

“For over 30 years he had a passion for youth and grassroots programmes within the Greenwich Town Football community.

President of KSAFA Wayne Shaw highlighted that "Lothian was a community man who wanted to see the best for the youth. His contribution to football will be remembered".

Minister of Gender, Culture, Entertainment and Sports Olivia Grange also expressed her surprise at the sudden passing of the respected administrator.

“I am deeply shocked to learn that Mr Godfrey Lothian died unexpectedly at his home. Mr Lothian was a devoted servant of the sport of table tennis in Jamaica and his contribution will not be forgotten. My heartfelt sympathy to his family, JTTA and the table tennis fraternity,” the minister said.

The Jamaica Cricket Association also reacted to the news.

“Director Lothian served as the president of the Kingston and St Andrew Cricket Association. He also served as a director on the JCA’s board. On behalf of the JCA and the wider cricket, we once again extend condolences and offer continuous prayer,” the JCA said in a statement.

However, the local and regional table tennis was the hardest hit fraternity.

News of Lothian’s death sparked messages of sympathy from table tennis associations from across the Caribbean including the International Table Tennis Federation, Barbados, Cuba, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, French Guiana, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, Haiti, Martinique, Bonaire, Suriname, St Vincent and the Cayman Islands.

 Closer home,  Lothian helped bring the sport back from obscurity by focusing on youth development and engaged scores of children and their parents.

Andrew Lue, the current JTTA president said he was both shocked and saddened by the news of Lothian’s death. “I learnt a lot from him,” Lue said. “This is shocking. We had our differences but I would not wish this on anyone.”

 Natalie Johnson a former manager of the Juniors National team, under Lothian’s presidency, said she was in disbelief.

“His passing is a real shock and my heart goes out to his family,” she said.

“I got involved with the table-tennis community because of my son Azizi. I can categorically say that under Mr Lothian leadership the juniors excelled to the level where they competed internationally. He ensured that the juniors were exposed every chance he got. May his soul rest in peace."

National player Kane Watson said Lothian had a strong following and people who didn’t see things his way but he was committed to the cause and worked hard. “He wanted better for table tennis,” Watson said.

Klan Bell-Lewis, the mother of Gianna and Tsenaye Lewis, who represent Jamaica at the junior level, said Lothian made significant contributions to the sport.

"As a parent of girls, I am appreciative of Mr Lothian and his administration for creating a space where girls were welcomed and encouraged within the sport. His contribution to youth development through table tennis is significant," she said.

Lewis's daughter, Tsenaye, a member of the national squad from 2016-2019, described the late president as a man of vision.

“Rest in peace, Mr Lothian. He was a visionary organizer and he had a lot of hopes for the junior players. May his legacy live on."

 

 

 

A berth at this year's summer Tokyo Olympic games is undoubtedly on the radar of Jamaica's top table tennis players, Simon Tomlinson and Kane Watson, who both continue to show impressive form at the international camp in Broward, Florida, where they are currently in training for the Olympic qualifiers later this month in Argentina.

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