Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Hyatt keeping ties with Jamaica table tennis

Published:Saturday | December 31, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Outstanding Jamaican table tennis player, Michael Hyatt, announced his retirement yesterday at a press conference at the Jamaica Table Tennis Association after 31 years in the sport.

The former national and regional champion, however, swore to continue his allegiance with the Jamaica Table Tennis Association to assist with the development of the sport as a marketing agent for the Godfrey Lothian administration.

Hyatt, who has won all available national youth titles and was four-time senior national champion, told the gathering that being the number-one player for the country at the age of 46 is a burden and he believes his experience will be more useful elsewhere.

"It is unusual in any sport for any athlete to play well into their forties. I was very fortunate to play until I was 45, at a high level. But I didn't stop playing because I wasn't good enough, but I felt I had other things in the corporate world I wanted to focus on more, and family.

"Life changes, and you have different motivations, and if I don't feel like I can be in my tip-top game in terms of my motivation to give the results Jamaica deserve, then I am not going to do it," he told The Gleaner.

"I felt the time was right. There are some players behind me that just need experience and exposure, and they are definitely capable; they just need help ... and the exposure and the opportunity."

 

BUSY YEAR

 

Table tennis will have a very busy first six months in 2017, which includes the World Championships, and Hyatt wants to ensure they build on the foundation that Lothian's administration has established.

"I look at where my experience could play the biggest factor on or off the table, and my opinion was to step aside now and put more emphasis on helping to get the teams to championships.

"We have some compelling events coming up in the next four months, including the world championships and the association even though they are trying very hard and have very good plans the financial climate for all sports is very difficult..

"We qualify the team for division three, and we can't go because we didn't have funding. We will be back in division four, so everything we did in Malaysia would count for nothing, so I felt the best of my time was to be as a facilitator for the teams and help the association with funding, not just for this year, but ongoing," he said.

Hyatt has won all national youth titles. He contested eight national finals and won four. He was Caribbean champion in 1996, the same year he and Stephen Hylton took Jamaica to their highest ever world ranking at number 35 playing in division two in 1995 in China.

He was also national US collegiate champion in 1991 and played in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics Games.

- L.S.