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Clean bill of health for Tomlinson, Watson

Published:Sunday | April 12, 2020 | 12:30 AMHubert Lawrence - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Simon Tomlinson (left)  and Kane Watson.
Simon Tomlinson (left) and Kane Watson.

Simon Tomlinson and Kane Watson, Jamaica’s top table tennis players, have emerged from a period of isolation with a clean bill of health. The isolation followed their return from Europe just as the novel coronavirus health challenge was causing concern. A grateful Tomlinson says the period of isolation ended almost two weeks ago.

The 2018 Caribbean men’s doubles silver medallists returned from Spain on March 14 and were advised by Ministry of Health officials to isolate themselves.

“They gave us a rundown on what was happening and what needed to happen for us to make sure we stayed safe, and make sure the people around us were safe as well,” Tomlinson said on April 7.

“They checked with us every day. We had to report any signs or symptoms, anything that was going on with us, and thankfully, we were cleared,” he said gratefully.

Describing his two-week period of isolation at home, Tomlinson related, “I haven’t had a bad time, mostly working on the craft, editing some videos and just enjoying some time to myself.”

The isolation period ended on March 28.

The players were in Europe, trying to play their way in Olympic qualifying spots. They contested tournaments and did a training stint with Nigel Webb, the former Jamaica champion and international, in Spain.

“Table tennis-wise, it was excellent. Kane and I both moved up over 300 spaces each on the world ranking list. We performed quite well in Sweden. Portugal and Spain were a bit harder but we had some good matches there as well. Overall, it was an excellent trip and the training with Nigel was excellent,” he reported.

Tomlinson and Watson now appear at 701 and 755 on the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) ranking list.

In Sweden, at the Safir International, both men won all their preliminary-round group encounters, and Tomlinson actually finished in the top 16. They were headed back to Spain afterwards for more training with Webb but had to head home instead.

TOURNAMENT HALTED

The virus has halted the ITTF tournament schedule and cast a shadow over the drive to qualify for the Olympics, but the tour has encouraged Tomlinson. “We can’t find out until after everything is said and done, but if it’s anything like how it was going, I think we should do pretty well,” he projected.

If they are successful, they would follow famous Jamaican footsteps to the Games in Tokyo next year. In the past, Garfield Jones, Michael Hyatt and Stephen Hylton have represented the country in the Olympics. Jones contested the men’s singles in 1988, while Hyatt and Hylton played singles and men’s doubles in 1996.