Guyana hopes to stop Dom Rep next year
The 61st Caribbean Table Tennis Championships will be held in Guyana next February and the hosts hope to put an end to the dominance of the Dominican Republic.
That's the sporting challenge issued by Christopher Franklin, who drove the Guyanese to a strong performance last week in Kingston, where the 60th staging of the championships was contested. Franklin promises that he and his teammates will be working hard to turn the tables.
In Kingston, from September 23 to 29, Guyana was the team that pushed the dominant Dominican Republic squad the hardest. The effort produced Under-21 titles for Shemar Britton and Chelsea Edghill, team silver medals for both the Guyanese men and women, and a mixed-doubles runner-up finish for Trenace Lowe and Franklin.
Franklin, who was the only non-Dominican Republic player to reach the men's singles semi-final stage, said the champions can expect even more of a fight next year.
"It's always great to play in front of a home crowd and it's something that we're really looking forward to and we're going to start preparing from now because we want to turn things around in the Caribbean region, where you see Dominican Republic really dominating the events," he said last Saturday.
"We're not too far off," said the player known at home as 'Corelone', "and we plan to put a stop to that when they come to our turf."
He explained why Guyana played so well in Kingston.
"A lot of determination, self-sacrifice, you know, it's something that we really wanted," he revealed. "We really wanted to have an outstanding year this year because we've been working hard," he continued.
MENTAL PREPARATION FILLED GAP
Noting that his female colleagues had targeted the team gold medal, he said: "Yes, they fell a step short, but we are all taking it as a positive because the preparation for us coming here wasn't ideal."
He said mental preparation made up for sometimes limited practice.
"Many of us had to work with mad schedules, some playing maybe once, twice a week, so it was all a lot of sacrifice," Franklin revealed. "Mentally, we prepared ourselves mentally for this so you know, the outcome was good."
Barbados coach Trevor Farley was left to rue a playing-arm injury to his brother, 2003 singles champion Kevin. The Barbadians led Guyana 2-0 in the men's team semi-final but without their wounded leader, couldn't hold on.
"We started with 2-0, then the third match with the guy who came in. He was fresh, and I know he had a little nerves, and that made the turnaround and I thought we would have still pulled it off, but Guyana really played well," Farley said.
The tide turned when Joel Alleyne beat untested Barbadian Marcus Smith to start the Guyanese comeback. It was Smith's first match of the tournament.
Coach Farley thinks his team did well, nevertheless, and expects training programmes at home to bear fruit by next February.
"We're seeing some good results coming out," he reported, "and I think that in the future you should see better table tennis from the Barbados team."