Wed | Dec 6, 2023

Invest in our youth – Tomlinson

Published:Wednesday | July 17, 2019 | 12:10 AMHubert Lawrence/ Gleaner Writer

Four-time national tabletennis champion Simon Tomlinson is hoping that Jamaica will invest in young players. Tomlinson made the call after his protégé, Solesha Young, won the women’s singles at last month’s National Championships. He feels that investment in Jamaica’s emerging table tennis prospects, especially Young and Azizi Johnson, will help them on their way in the game.

Tomlinson and Young won the mixed doubles when the nationals were last held in 2017, and this time, she made the breakthrough he expected in the individual event.

“I’m so happy for her,” he said last week from his training base in Miami. “She didn’t play the women’s open last year, and honestly, I believe she could have won it last year, as well, but she came out firing this year.”

Asked about the table tennis landscape in Jamaican table tennis given the success of Young, the 2017 Caribbean Region Under-13 runner-up, he said, “They need to invest in these youngsters. they need to invest in Solesha and Azizi Johnson especially; I always mention those two.

They’re the youngest ones we have right now, and even to me, they’re very impressive for their age, not only for their age, but the things that they can do.”

The 15-year-old Young is the best of an emerging group of junior girls who have played for the senior team recently, while Johnson, 12, has consistently won medals in regional age-group tournaments.

“They need to have them sponsored, they need to get them travelling, and if they invest one or two years in those two kids, I can guarantee that they’ll do very well,” he said.

Given that he and Kane Watson, the 2017 Caribbean men’s doubles silver medallists, have won the last seven men’s national titles between he is hoping that there will be opportunities for the senior team.

“I think we’ve done a good job of showing that we are the best two that Jamaica has to offer now, so like I said for the juniors, it’s the same for us. We need to be invested in,” said Tomlinson, who has won the nationals four times in a row.

In the meantime, he will continue training in Miami and looking for tournaments in which he can test his skills.

“I hoped to be at the Pan-American Games, but we didn’t get sent to the qualifier, so as for international tournaments, I’m not sure. So for now, it’s just to stay in Miami and try and get a tournament date here,” Tomlinson said.