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Edghill & Fowler are Guyana’s flag-bearers … as Olympics get underway today

As team Guyana sets out today in pursuit of the nation’s second, third, and maybe fourth Olympic medals, there are several bits of history-making to be relished. In fact, even before they got to Tokyo, the Guyanese athletes were on this path.

Ranging from the youngest Olympian to ever represent Guyana: 15-year-old Aleka Persaud; the first time a pair of siblings will represent Guyana: Jasmine and Aliyah Abrams; the first boxer to qualify for the Games in 25 years: Keevin Allicock; the first table tennis player to make the Games: Chelsea Edghill.

Chelsea Edghill

And, of course, the first duo to bear Guyana’s flag: table tennis player Chelsea Edghill and swimmer Andrew Fowler, have been appointed as Guyana’s flag-bearers for the opening ceremony as the Olympics strive for balance gender-wise.

Straying away from the single bearer that was nominated in the past, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has mandated one male and one female β€œas a symbol of gender parity.”

As such, Guyana’s duo will support the Golden Arrowhead, starting at 7am today, marking the official beginning of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games.

By the time the opening ceremony gets underway, Guyana’s entire contingent would have arrived in Tokyo for the highly anticipated 32nd Olympiad.

Later today (Friday, 8pm local time), Edghill will be the first Guyanese athlete in action in the preliminary round of the Women’s Singles. She will battle Fiji’s Sally Yee for a chance in Round 1 of the competition.

Keevin Allicock

The Women’s Singles event is so densely packed that there will be three rounds of play before the Round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals and then final. Edghill, the first table tennis player to ever represent Guyana at the Games, will be competing at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

Keevin Allicock is next up, with his bout against the Dominican Republic’s Alexy de la Cruz. This will be a rematch of sorts for the Guyanese pugilist, after an unfair decision in the 2019 Pan American qualifiers had cost him a quarterfinal bout with de la Cruz.

At that outing, a technical delegate had claimed that Allicock, who was fighting out of the red corner, was clothed in the wrong colour. (The Guyanese boxer was wearing a red-and-black vest).

Given a minute to change clothing, the now 22-year-old was still handed a β€˜loss by walkover’.

These two warriors will finally meet in the Round of 32 featherweight (52- 57kg) bout at the Kokugikan Arena.

Jasmine Abrams

Next Tuesday, July 27, Andrew Fowler will take to the pool. Competing at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre, the swimmer will be part of the second heat in the Men’s 100M freestyle at 6.06am local time. This will be Fowler’s second outing at the Olympic Games, having represented Guyana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at the 2016 Games.

On Thursday, July 29th, the younger of the Abrams sisters, Jasmine, will come up against some of the fastest women in the world in the Women’s 100m sprint. this is Jasmine’s first outing at the Games, after she worked assiduously to qualify for the event through ranking points. The sprinter copped a bronze medal at the South American Senior Championships and a gold at Guyana’s Senior Championships last month.

The following day, Guyana’s youngest ever Olympian, 15-year-old Aleka Persaud, will hit the pool for the Women’s 50m freestyle swim. Persaud, who was not initially slated to represent Guyana, eventually fell into place after FINA mandated that the fastest female Guyanese athlete with the most ranking points should be the one to take up the Universality position.

Andrew Fowler

Persaud, along with Fowler, has been part of a high-performance FINA pre-Olympic Swim camp over the past two weeks.

Emanuel Archibald

Later that day, Emanuel Archibald will gear up for the Men’s 100M sprint. Archibald, who is Guyana’s Long Jump record holder (8.12M), had wanted to compete in his pet event at the Games, but unfortunately did not make the cut.

However, the sprinter has remained in good spirits, sharing that it was great to focus on one event for the first time.

The final athlete to compete for Guyana will be Aliyah Abrams. Her event – the Women’s 400m race – will be held on Monday August 2. This will be Abrams’s second appearance at the Games, having represented Guyana in 2016 at the Rio Games.

Abrams, who qualified for the Games since 2019, recently copped Gold at the National Senior Championships in Guyana.

Aliyah Abrams

Aside from the athletes, Guyana’s contingent includes chef de mission Garfield Wiltshire, COVID officer/ Physiotherapist Angelica Holder, Secretary General Deion Nurse, Athlete Representative Aliann Pompey, Swim Coach Shyka Gonzalves, Boxing Coach Sebert Blake, Table Tennis Coach Idi Lewis, and Athletics Coaches Julian Edmonds and Denzel Abrams. (Jemima Holmes)

Guyana named among the 23 best dressed nations at Tokyo Olympics

Despite criticism over Team Guyana’s uniform at the Tokyo Olympics, the seven-member contingent has been named one of the best dress groups.

During the opening ceremony of the Olympics, many viewers took to social media to express their views on the design of Team Guyana’s outfit, mostly criticizing the design.

Many stated that the predominantly red uniforms was of a certain political affiliation and that there was a colour of the Golden Arrowhead not present the design.

Nevertheless, team Guyana represented the country with pride and joy and while many may have their negative comments Team Guyana was named among the 23 best dressed nations at the Tokyo Olympics.

In a release from Insider Sports it was said, β€œThe seven athletes representing Guyana wore a bold red that immediately caught the eye.”

This statement coming out of Tokyo immediately laid all the irrelevant and negative comments to rest and promoted what the Minister of Culture Youth and Sports Honorable Charles Ramson stated which was to celebrate the achievements of our young Guyanese who made it to the world stage to shine the spotlight on beautiful Guyana.

Chelsea Edghill.


Guyana off to a winning start as Edghill makes history with first Olympic win

Guyana’s first-ever game in Table Tennis at the Olympic Games resulted in a win, following a stellar performance from Table Tennis star Chelsea Edghill.

Edghill, who made it to the Tokyo Games on a β€˜Wild Card’ position, made the most of the opportunity on Friday night.

The 24-year-old player came up against Yee of Fiji in the Preliminary Round of the women’s Singles’ event at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on table One. Yee, a second time Olympian, has three silver and one bronze medals at the 2019 Pacific Games, none of which fazed Edghill.

Edghill played her way to a win in the first set, of the β€˜best of seven’ game, 11 points to 5. However, Yee was previously featured in the Rio, 2016 Olympic Games, spurred a bounce back win, taking the second set 11-4.

However, the Guyanese player was having none of it, as she took the third set 11-3. The fourth set, though a bit closer, went similarly for Edghill as she won 11-6.

Yee, noticing that it could all be over in the following game got up on the first point, but couldn’t hold on to the momentum she needed to trump the Guyanese. The Smalta Brand ambassador did as winners do, taking the fifth set, and the game 11-8.

With the advice of Coach Idi Lewis, Edghill’s match statistics were pristine, winning 48 points as compared to Yee’s 33. She won 25 points on serve (Yee, 17) and lost 16 (Yee, 23), her biggest lead in the game was by 8 points, while the most consecutive points she scored was 6.

Having won the preliminary encounter, Edghill now moves on to Round One of the Women’s Singles event. There, she will face off with South Korea’s Yubin Shin. Their match will get underway today from 7:15 am at the same venue. This is also Shin’s first Olympic Games, being the youngest ever South Korean Table Tennis player at the Games, at 17 years old.

Meanwhile, Boxer Keevin Allicock will also make his Olympic debut today in a featherweight bout against the Dominican Republic’s Alexy de la Cruz. Their fight will go down at the Kokugikan Arena, starting at 6:06am local time.

Valiant Edghill defeated by South Korean opponent’s Chelsea Edghill

Another Guyaneses’ 2020 Olympic run came to an end on Saturday morning, as Chelsea Edghill suffered a disappointing loss in her Round of 32 match in the Women’s Singles event.

Edghill was played to an emphatic 4-1 victory on Friday night against Fiji’s Sally Yee, was then matched up with Yubin Shin on South Korea for the next round.

There, the first match got off to an exciting start, with the Guyanese and the South Korean often tied on points, however, Shin soon pulled away from Edghill to win the first set 11-7. The second was quite similar to the first, as Shin came from behind to win the set 11-8. Guyana’s Edghill could not find the formula to stop Shin in the third set, as the South Korean won 11-1.

The decorated Guyana player found her fight in the fourth set, leading the game at one point, but it was Shin that turned it round for her fourth straight win.

With Keevin Allicock also suffering a defeat at the hands of the Dominican Republic’s Alexy de la Cruz on Saturday morning, the next Guyanese that will be in action at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is Andrew Fowler in the Men’s 100m freestyle on Tuesday, July 27.

Allicock suffers a loss in opening bout

Keevin Allicock early on Saturday morning, bowed out of Olympic Medal contention, following a loss on points in his Round of 32 bout.

Allicock, paired with Alexy de la Cruz of the Dominican Republic for their featherweight encounter, boxed out of the red corner.

Keevin Allicock

A spirited start from both pugilists eventually saw the opponent landing a handful of punches, which led de la Cruz to win the first of the three round bout. While Allicock scored all 9’s from the five judges, de la Cruz’s points were all 10.

The Albouystown boxer had a better second round but still scored, 9,8, 9, 9, 9 from Judges 1-5 respectively.

In the final Round, Allicock was unstoppable, landing a series of hooks and jabs to destabilize his opponent. So impressive was Allicock’s performance in the third Round that de la Cruz lost his footing, with a brief crash in the ring, with just seconds remaining in the bout.

Though Allicock looked like a winner in the third round, the Judges were not convinced. He picked up scores of 10, 10, 10, 10, 9. While de la Cruz scored 9, 9, 9, 9, 10.

The points tallied to 28-29, 27-29, 28-29, 28-29 and 27-30, which saw de la Cruz winning on points, 5-0.

Tokyo Olympics: Guyanese Aleka Persaud to swim on Friday

Aleka Persaud, the youngest Guyanese to attend an Olympic Games, will hit the pool on Friday morning (06:30h Guyana time) in the Women’s 50m Freestyle at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre.

The 15-year-old gained a Universality spot to the ongoing Tokyo Olympic Games with an entry time of 28.10 seconds.

Persaud will compete in Heat Four. Only the 16 fastest swimmers from 11 Heats will advance to the semi-finals.

Guyana’s other representative in swimming, Andrew Fowler, on Tuesday finished fourth in Heat One of the Men’s 100m Freestyle in a time of 55.23 seconds, and did not make the semi-finals.

Fowler, who had the best entry time of 54.10s in the Heat, was among the early leaders in the race, but faded in the last 25 meters.

The 25-year-old, who also gained a Universality spot, had a reaction time of 0.64s and swam his first 50 meters in 26.12s.

Historic! Persaud breaks national record at Tokyo Olympic Games

Though she failed to qualify for the semi-finals, Guyana’s youngest ever Olympian Aleka Persaud made a huge statement in her first Olympics, breaking the country’s national record in an impressive showing in her Heat on Friday morning.

The 15-year-old finished second in Heat Four with a time of 27.76s, a new Personal Best, eclipsing her entry time of 28.10s. She is now the first female Guyanese swimmer ever to go under 28s.

β€œI’m very proud of her,” Persaud’s coach Sean Baksh told News Room Sport in an invited comment.

β€œShe’s only 15 and was out of the pool for most of last year actually; we only started training in the water this year.”

Persaud had reset the Women’s 50m freestyle national record in June to 28.10s, replacing the 28.15s held by another Olympian Brittany van Lange since March 2014.

According to FINA (International Swimming Federation), Persaud also holds the long course National records in the 100m Butterfly (01:08.52s) and 200m Medley (02:42.42s), all accomplished when she was just 13-years-old at the 2019 CARIFTA Championships in Barbados.

Meanwhile, Judith Meauri of Papua New Guinea won the Heat with a time of 27.56s, but she also did not secure in a spot in the semi-finals.

The athletes with the 16 fastest times made the cut for the next round.

15-Y-O Aleka Persaud vows to make Guyana proud at Tokyo Olympics Persaud

Fifteen-year-old Aleka Persaud is the youngest of seven athletes who will represent Guyana at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

Though it is no surprise for a teenager to qualify for the quadrennial event, Aleka’s ascension as Guyana’s swimming representative caught most off guard, owing to an International Swimming Federation (FINA) stipulation, that indicates the fastest male and female swimmer should represent the country.

β€œI was shocked at first. After I heard my colleague was going to the Olympics but then FINA stated that the fastest Guyanese swimmer must represent at the Olympics. After that information, I was very excited, I started running and jumping all around the house,” Persaud said, as she recollected on her reaction to receiving the news about her universality spot, in order to participate in the Tokyo Olympics.

The CARIFTA Gold medalist departed Guyana on Sunday for a two-week FINA training camp, that will lead up to the Tokyo Games.

Speaking to the media over the weekend, the teenager talked about the personal significance of the achievement and the support that has led her to this stage.

β€œIt means a lot. I’ve been training hard for the past few years, just for this moment. It is a dream come through to attend the Olympics this year,” the teenager expressed.

β€œEveryone has been behind me. I have my sponsors, my family; my mom is really behind me, she always pushes me past my limit. My dad is in the sport, so he expects everything out of me, so I will make them proud when I attend the Olympics.”

Though excited about representing Guyana at her first Olympic Games, Persaud is focused on attaining some goals.

β€œI want to improve, by God’s grace, improve on my 28.10s (personal best time) in the 50m freestyle,” Persaud explained.

Aleka, along with Andrew Fowler will represent Guyana in Swimming. Meanwhile, table tennis player Chelsea Edghill, Boxer Keevin Allicock and track athletes Emmanuel Archibald, Aliyah and Jasmine Abrams make up the remainder of the Guyanese athletes who will participate in the July 23 to August 8 event.

Coaches Baksh and Gonsalves proud of Persaud’s Olympic performance

Jul 31, 2021 Sports, By Sean Devers, Source - Kaieteur News Online - https://www.kaieteurnewsonline...olympic-performance/

Guyana’s swimmer Aleka Persaud, who turned 15 in February, finished second in Heat 4 of the Women’s 50m Freestyle but barely missed out on advancing to the next round.
She clocked 27.76 at Tokyo Olympics for a personal best and a new national record for Guyana yesterday morning in Japan.

Since this Country participated in its inaugural Olympics as British Guiana in 1948, Persaud is the youngest Guyanese to attend the Olympics and is the fastest female swimmer in Guyana despite her age.

Her club Coach, Shawn Baksh did not travel with her to Tokyo as Coach Shyka Gonsalves accompanied the pair of Persaud and male swimmer 25-year-old Policeman Andrew Fowler, who finished fourth in his 100m freestyle heat, to the 17th Olympics attended by this Country.

β€œThe time she did was expected, we had been working to break into the 27’s since May it happened at the perfect time…she is also swimming the time other 15 year olds in the region are swimming but this 27 is deserving since we have only had pool training from January this year she was out of the water from March last year until this year. I’m very proud of her,” informed Coach Baksh.

β€œShe has done all of this with only her parent’s support, no funding of any sort excepting for a few sponsors who contributed to help her attended the meets in Puerto Rico and the Bahamas,” lamented the Orca Swim Club Coach.

Ironically, it was at the Puerto Rico meet that Aleka was given a wild as Guyana’s fastest female swimmer.

The 23-year-old Jamila Sanmoogan was selected by GASA for the Olympics but was not sent to attend the Puerto Rico meet and FINA mandated that Aleka replace her because of her times in that Meet.

β€œI would say based on the development plan we have prepared for her a lot more needs to come her way to properly prepare her for the next Olympics….the time that she did is a B time for the Junior PANAM Games so our focus now will be on that,” explained Baksh.

β€œWe are going to be preparing for Jr. Panam and then the FINA world championship in December. So it will be right back to training and looking into funding for her development,” concluded Coach Baksh.

Meanwhile, speaking from Tokyo shortly after Aleka set the new National record for her country Coach Gonsalves said she was very proud of Aleka.
β€œShe did very well for herself. She has the fastest 50m freestyle for females in Guyana a great accomplishment,” added Coach Gonsalves.

Before her first race at an Olympic event, Coach Gonsalves disclosed that Aleka was in good spirits, excited and nervous at the same time as will be expected from anyone in Tokyo.

Speaking about Fowler and Persaud, Gonsalves felt the swimmers did not have enough pool time leading up to their participation in the biggest muli-sports Games in the world.

β€œThe swimmers did the best they could for the amount of training sessions they got. There was no training in the year 2020. While the whole world has opened up the swimming pools, Guyana has not. I don’t think it is fair to place very high expectations on them,” Coach Gonsalves.

A study done in England showed that it took eight years in England on the investment per athlete that got a medal and it came up to 220,000 pounds per medal.

The study also stated that 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 and this doesn’t factor in the development stage an athlete has to be invested in before reaching elite Olympic level.

Aliyah Abrams who will compete in the Women’s 400m and Emanuel Archibald in the 100m, are Guyana’s hope of getting a medal since Boxer Mike Parris won Bronze (Guyana’s only Medal) in the 1980 Games in Moscow.

Poland grants visa to Belarusian Olympian who says she feared for her safety

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya refused to board flight arranged after she criticized coaches!/fileImage/httpImage/image.JPG_gen/derivatives/original_1180/olympics-2020-belarus.JPGTsimanouskaya talks with police officers at Haneda international airport in Tokyo on Sunday. She alleges her Olympic team tried to remove her from Japan in a dispute that led to a standoff at the airport. (Issei Kato/Reuters)

Poland granted a visa Monday to a Belarusian Olympic sprinter who said she feared for her safety and that her team's officials tried to force her to fly home, where the autocratic government was recently accused of diverting a flight to arrest a dissident journalist.

An activist group that is helping athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya told The Associated Press that it bought her a plane ticket to Warsaw for the coming days.

The current standoff apparently began after Tsimanouskaya criticized how officials were managing her team β€” setting off a massive backlash in state-run media back home, where authorities relentlessly crack down on government critics. The runner said on her Instagram account that she was put in the 4x400 relay even though she has never raced in the event.

The runner was then apparently hustled to the airport in Tokyo but refused to board a flight for Istanbul and instead approached police for help. In a filmed message distributed on social media, she also asked the International Olympic Committee for assistance.

'Forcibly' tried to make her board flight

"I was put under pressure, and they are trying to forcibly take me out of the country without my consent," the 24-year-old said in the message.

The rapid-fire series of events brought international political intrigue to an Olympics that have been more focused on operational dramas, such as maintaining safety during a pandemic and navigating widespread Japanese opposition to holding the event at all.

Belarus's authoritarian government has relentlessly targeted anyone even mildly expressing dissent since a presidential election a year ago triggered a wave of unprecedented mass protests. And it has also gone to extremes to stop its critics, including the recent plane diversion that European officials called an act of air piracy.

In this context, Tsimanouskaya feared for her safety once she saw the campaign against her in state media, according to the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation, the activist group that is helping her.

"The campaign was quite serious and that was a clear signal that her life would be in danger in Belarus," Alexander Opeikin, a spokesperson for the foundation, told the AP in an interview.

'Cheap stunt,' says state TV

State media have continued to come down hard on Tsimanouskaya. Presenters on state TV channel Belarus 1 called her decision to seek asylum "a cheap stunt" and "a disgusting act," and described her performance at the Olympics as a "failure."

Tsimanouskaya competed for Belarus on the first day of track events Friday at the National Stadium in Tokyo. She placed fourth in her first-round heat in the 100 metres, timing 11.47 seconds and did not advance.

She was due to compete again in the Olympic 200-metre heats on Monday, but she said her team barred her from participating in a complaint filed with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. She asked the court to overturn that decision, but the body declined to intervene.

Humanitarian visa

Tsimanouskaya's next steps were not clear. Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek, a Polish deputy foreign minister, said the runner asked for the humanitarian visa for now and can still seek refugee status once in Poland. Vadim Krivosheyev, of the activist sports foundation, said she planned to seek asylum.

Tsimanouskaya's husband, Arseni Zdanevich, meanwhile, confirmed to the Russian Sport Express newspaper that he left Belarus for Ukraine. Other media reported the couple's child was with him.

Athletes seeking asylum at global sporting events are nothing new β€” though Tsimanouskaya's circumstances differ from the typical situation. Requests for asylum were especially frequent during the Cold War but they have also happened occasionally in the decades since. As many as 117 athletes defected at the Munich Olympics in 1972, according to reports at the time. At least four Romanians and a Soviet associated with the Olympics defected at the Montreal Games in 1976. And Cuban athletes have frequently done so.

Underscoring the seriousness of the allegations, several groups and countries say they are helping the runner. Poland and the Czech Republic offered assistance, and Japan's foreign ministry said it was working with the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo Olympics organizers.

The IOC, which has been in dispute with the Belarus National Olympic Committee ahead of the Tokyo Games, said it had intervened.!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_1180/tokyo-olympics-swimming.jpgTsimanouskaya runs in the women's 100-metre event at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday. (Petr David Josek/The Associated Press)

"The IOC is looking into the situation and has asked the NOC for clarification," it said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the Belarus Olympic team did not respond to a request for comment.

Poland a destination for other critics

Many critics of Belarus's government have fled to Poland. A top Belarusian dissident in the country, Pavel Latushka, said Tsimanouskaya and those supporting her had sought assistance from various European governments; Poland was the quickest to respond.

Marcin Przydacz, one of the country's deputy foreign ministers, said on Twitter that in addition to granting the humanitarian visa, Poland would also help the runner to continue her sports career. "Poland always stands for Solidarity," he said.

Several hours after she entered the Polish embassy, Tsimanouskaya was still believed to be inside.

Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek also tweeted that the Czech Republic has offered her asylum.

The Belarus National Olympic Committee has been led for more than 25 years by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko and his son, Viktor.

The standoff over Tsimanouskaya comes just months after the dramatic diversion of a passenger plane flying between two EU countries. Belarusian authorities ordered the plane to land in Minsk β€” and pulled journalist and activist Raman Pratasevich and his Russian girlfriend off the flight.

The elder Lukashenko maintained that there was a bomb threat against the plane and that's why a fighter jet was scrambled to force it to land, but the move was roundly criticized by Western leaders.

Pratasevich, who ran a channel on a messaging app used to organize demonstrations against Lukashenko's rule, left his homeland in 2019. He has been charged with fomenting mass unrest and is under house arrest while he awaits trial.

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