Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Coke Looks For International Success

Published:Tuesday | January 24, 2017 | 1:00 AMShayne Fairman

Dennis Coke, newly crowned All Jamaica badminton champion, is hoping his first major title will signal the beginning of a successful international career.

The player was unseeded en route, turning back winning perennial challenger, many-time national champion - Gareth Henry in the quarter-finals.

Though triumphing from that underdog position, the 24-year-old wants his career to take off this year.

"Right now, I am working on being among the best in Jamaica, and looking internationally. I have a point to prove. I want to try and win a gold medal in the singles internationally," he said.

Coke, seemingly unfazed by his impressive win, notes that it is back to the drawing board.

"I already went to the youth Olympic Games. My aim now is to go to the Olympics.

"It's just to go overseas and play more tournaments, and I hope to take my ranking to the sky," the player said.

He is currently ranked 550 in men's singles, and 285 in the doubles competition.

Up next for the champion is national training for upcoming tournaments including the Jamaica International Badminton tournament in March, to be followed by a challenge in Cuba.

HARD WORK PAYING OFF

"Well, I train hard over the years, and now I feel that my work is paying off. It was an overwhelming feeling knowing that I went into the tournament, and wasn't fit enough, but I fought through the rounds, and to beat the top player (Gareth Henry) is a good feeling," he added.

In the recently concluded final, Coke lost the first set 15-21 to Samuel Ricketts, but there was no stopping him as he triumphed 21-17 and 21-15.

He also teamed with Anthony McNee to win the men's doubles over Kirk Francis and Garron Palmer.

"I was the underdog for that tournament, but right now, I wouldn't say I am at the top of my game. I would say I am about 75 percent," Coke told The Gleaner.