… Players make call for support and funding
By Rawle Toney in Birmingham (Team Guyana Press Attaché)
THE pair of Natalie Cummings and Chelsea Edghill remain Guyana’s last hope at a podium finish in table tennis at the Commonwealth Games, following their Women’s Doubles Round-of-32 victory over South Africa.
Cummings and Edghill seemed like the perfect pair, showing unmatched co-ordination as they battled hard to a 3-1 win (11-3, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8).
They will progress to today’s Round-of-16 to face New Zealand’s Chunyi Feng and Yangzi Liu.
When the two Guyanese take to the Table Tennis Hall at the National Exhibition Centre today, it will mark the first time Guyana’s females are featuring in the Doubles Round-of-16 at the Commonwealth Games.
Things didn’t go so well for Christopher Franklin and Shemar Britton in the Men’s Doubles Round-of-16.
Franklin and Britton held their own against Nigeria, but lost 1-3 (6-11, 6-11, 11-9, 5-11). It was also the country’s first time in the Men’s Double Round-of-16.
Meanwhile, Cummings’ exceptional run in the Women’s Singles in Birmingham, came to an end yesterday when she was defeated by Wales’ 16-year-old prodigy, Anna Hursey 0-4 in the Round-of-16.
Cummings, following her breathtaking seven-set thriller in the Round-of-32 against Mauritius’ Ruqayyah, became the first Guyanese, male or female, to advance to the singles Round-of-16 at the Commonwealth Games since table tennis was added in 2002.
Reflecting on her historic win on Thursday evening, Cummings said she owes it all to her teammates that pulled her through.
Making her third Commonwealth Games appearance, Cummings believes that the 2022 event is their best performance.
“As a team, we gel well together, we support each other. We struggle together, win together. The little camps that we had (back home) … we kept pushing each other; so I’m pleased with everyone who came here (to the Commonwealth Games),” Cummings said.
Coach Idi Lewis bemoaned the lack of funding for the sport, and believed that if they were given enough resources to properly prepare, things would have been better. Cummings wholeheartedly agrees with that.
“Funding! We keep saying it. Funding is so important … equipment on time … better facilities. We need a home for table tennis. For me, setting a benchmark .., top 16 … I don’t think is the best we can do, but it sets a precedent that we can do better,” the candid ‘lefty’ stated.
Cummings added, “If we’re at home training and we got this far, much-less more support thrown towards us, I think we can do much better.”
“As Idi said, we’re not supposed to be here, but we’re here showing everyone, showing Guyana that, just give us the opportunity and we’re going to do things,” Cummings said.