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Hylton praises late Trini TT legend

Published:Sunday | May 26, 2019 | 12:16 AMHubert Lawrence - Gleaner Writer
St Louis
St Louis

Jamaican table tennis hero Stephen Hylton is deeply saddened by the passing of Trinidad and Tobago’s five-time Caribbean champion Dexter St Louis. Hylton described St Louis as great to play against, friendly, and committed to table tennis.

Speaking from his home in the United States, Hylton reacted to the jolting news that the 51-year-old St Louis had died last week after a short illness.

“I was just shocked, let’s put it that way. I was saddened,” said the 1996 Olympian.

FIRST ENCOUNTER

The first time he saw St Louis, Hylton likened him to Jamaica-born English star Desmond ‘Black Flash’ Douglas, in part because both were left-handed.

“I remember the first time I saw him play, I think it was 1984 in Trinidad,” he recounted. “I won the men’s singles, I was 19, and he won the juniors and I said to myself, when I saw him first, he reminds me of Desmond Douglas, you know.

“I said to myself, that kid could go a very far way,” Hylton added.

He was right. In addition to winning the Caribbean men’s title in 1998, 2004, 2006, 2009, and 2013, St Louis used his fast, close-to-the-table attacking game to win a silver medal in the 2006 Central America and Caribbean (CAC) Games. He also represented his country in the 1996 and 2008 Olympic Games.

In 2006, St Louis added to his trophy collection with a CAC doubles bronze medal won in tandem with his stepdaughter Rheann Chung.

“He was always very friendly, always the person you could go and talk to. He loved what he did, he committed his life to table tennis, as you could see with his daughter.”

Although St Louis was a difficult opponent, Hylton described him as ‘great to play against’.

Based in France, St Louis was in good form for Trinidad and Tobago at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, leaving Hylton to praise his Caribbean colleague’s longevity.

“It’s amazing! It’s a credit to his conditioning, a credit to his mindset and it’s something that he wanted to do,” Hylton said.

During his long career, St Louis had victories over former English champion Carl Prean and French ‘Musketeer’ Christophe Legout, and Lin Ju, the Chinese player, who represented Santo Domingo, defeating St Louis in the 2003 Caribbean final in Kingston and for the 2006 CAC Games gold medal.

In a tribute to a regional rival whose sporting career at the table mirrored his own, the 54-year-old Hylton said, “Life is short and at least he did what he enjoyed.”