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.
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 “as 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.
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 ‘loss by walkover’.
These two warriors will finally meet in the Round of 32 featherweight (52- 57kg) bout at the Kokugikan Arena.
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.
Persaud, along with Fowler, has been part of a high-performance FINA pre-Olympic Swim camp over the past two weeks.
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.
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)