Bajans get ready for World Challenge
Eight of Barbados’ brightest table tennis prospects will take on the world when the ITTF World Cadet Challenge serves off on Sunday at the Wildey Gymnasium.
Today will be the final day for training during which the eight Barbadians were given the opportunity to work with eight different international squads and coaches over the past six weeks.
The opening ceremony will be held on Sunday but the competition begins in earnest from Monday and will climax on Saturday.
Barbados will find plenty of opposition against the very best from Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, North America and Latin America and a top ranked world junior team specially selected and prepared by the ITTF through their selected programme. Thirty-four countries will be represented.
The under-15 Challenge, which has attracted 64 competitors, will see Tyrese Knight leading the charge for the Bajan boys and Kenady King performing the same role for the lasses.
The full Barbados contingent is Knight, Marcus Smith, Ramón Jackman, Jalani Miller, King, Janae Lewis, Jazel Griffith and Erica Banfield.
Players to watch include Minha Hwang of Korea, Yuto Kizukuri and Mima Ito of Japan, the Caribbean best in Adriana Diaz of Puerto Rico and Kanak Jha of the United States who will fly to Barbados on Sunday after playing at the World Cup for seniors.
President of the Barbados Table Tennis Association, Ray Jackman indicated that the benefits of the training as well as the opportunity to host the Challenge offered great hope for the future of local table tennis.
“Cadet Challenges of the past have produced World and Olympic champions and we are expecting this event to be no different,” he said.
“A table tennis event of this quality has not been experienced in Barbados for about 25 years.
“We are hoping to create a hive of activity on competition days with thousands of school children in attendance each day. The presence of Team Barbados may very well be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our team and table tennis juniors in the Caribbean region.”
Raul Calin, who is the ITTF events and Olympic Games expert, said that the Challenge, which was launched in 2002, has risen in importance on the ITTF’s calendar.
He added that the training aspect as well as the social interaction not only produced world champions but could reduce wars since the players from around the world got to understand and appreciate each other’s differences and talents.