Jul 27, 2021 Sports
By Sean Devers
Kaieteur News – After dominating Sally Yee of Fiji 11-5, 4-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-8, in her preliminary round match at the Tokyo Olympics, Guyana’s first Table Tennis Olympian Chelsea Edghill and her fans watching on TV around the world would have been overjoyed at the 4-1 result.
However, Edghill, who turned 24 on July 6, couldn’t keep up with the pace of South Korea’s 17-year-old Yubin Shin in her second match.
And although the top-ranked Korean was pushed by Edghill in the last game, Shin won 11-7, 11-8, 11-1, 12-10.
National Table Tennis Coach, Malteenoes’ Idi Lewis speaking about the match that ended Edghill’s Olympics, conceded that at this point the Korean was the better player.
“If we’re going off of world ranking, she’s ranked about 300 places ahead but judging from the match and scores you couldn’t really tell, Chelsea was able to hold her own and had opportunities to win at least two games which is amazing against such a quality opponent and it also goes to show her true potential,” explained the 37-year-old Lewis.
Asked what was his feeling of Coaching Guyana’s only Table Tennis Olympian like as her Coach Lewis responded: “It’s really hard to put that feeling into words, at points I don’t even think it’s real. It’s surreal,” added Lewis.
Lewis, who’s been Edghill’s Coach since she joined the Malteenoes Sports Club at age six, provided his thoughts on the former Caribbean U-21 champion and four times Junior Sports Woman of the year, “She’s extremely talented and even from a young age and her work ethic was always top notch, very passionate about the sport, fun and just an all-round amazing athlete and person. She has been with me for over 10 years,” revealed Lewis who resides in Guyana.
“Initially we were trying to get her back to Europe at one of the world class training centres but after that fell through for various reasons, the ICC training center in California was a great substitution,” continued Lewis.
According to her Coach, the strength of the 2018 Senior Sports Woman of the year are her excellent serves, she follows tactics and game plans perfectly, has a solid all round game, excellent table tennis I.Q, fighter and the list goes on.
Asked about Edghill’s weaknesses Coach Lewis said he would never discuss her weaknesses in public.
“We work on that in private,” posited the former National Table tennis player.
Edghill, who also holds a BSc in Chemistry, having graduated in 2019 from Lindenwood University in the USA, plays professionally in Portugal with Lusitania de Lourosa; a table tennis club located in the city of Lourosa in Santa Maria da Feira.
“I think the number one thing she needs at this point is major funding if we’re to think about medals, this varies from country to country, sport to sport but there was a study done years ago in England on the investment per athlete that got a medal and it came up to 220,000 pounds per medal.
Olympians would also train at least 10,000 hours’ prep leading up to the games and compete at 7-10 international competitions per year at a minimum. This doesn’t factor in the development stage, an athlete has to be invested in before reaching elite Olympic level,” Lewis informed.
“In a nutshell, a nucleus of certified paid coaches, competition both domestic and international at high levels, incentives post and during career, talent Identification systems and structured media marketing, all working. And critically facilities together,” stressed Lewis when asked what is needed for Guyana to produce high quality International sportspersons.
“The standard of table Tennis in Guyana is very high under the circumstances and we’ve shown we’re good enough to compete at the highest level against the best in the world with Chelsea.
Outside of her we have other young and bright talents like Shemar Britton, Terence Rausch, Malachi Moore, Ebo McNeil, Johnathon Vanlange, Samara Suhkai, Jazmine Billingy just to name a few,” informed Lewis.
Lewis feels the gap between Caribbean and International levels are in the systems and structures.
“The gaps are in the systems and structures that I’ve referenced earlier that limits our athletes in the region to be able to transition and realize their truest potential. There is an abundance of skill in this region,” lamented the hard working Coach.
Lewis and Edghill were scheduled to depart Japan yesterday and will spend a few days visiting, friends and family in New York before returning to Guyana.
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