GTTA saddened by passing of legendary George Braithwaite
The Table Tennis fraternity in Guyana was on Tuesday thrown into a state of shock and mourning following the death of legendary Guyanese player George Braithwaite.
A statement on the Guyana Table Tennis Association’s website attributed to GTTA President Godfrey Munroe read: “On behalf of the executive committee and members of Guyana’s Table Tennis Fraternity, and in my personal capacity as President of the GTTA, we are deeply saddened by the passing of Guyana’s table tennis legend, stalwart and great, Mr. George Braithwaite, who passed away on Tuesday, 27th October 2020, in the USA at the age of 86.”
George Braithwaite, a USA Hall of Famer and former Caribbean Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles Champion, and many times US Open champion – “The Chief”, as he was known in table tennis circles – made an enormous impact on, and left an indelible and irreplaceable legacy in, the sporting world. A true athlete, who competed and excelled at cricket and track-and-field, as both a 100-metre and 200-metre sprinter, represented Guyana at two Caribbean (West Indian) Track and Field Championships in Port of Spain, Trinidad and in Kingston, Jamaica.
George played a significant role in the history and annals of world politics when he was part of the 1971 Table Tennis Ping Pong Diplomacy, which is credited with thawing relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China and changing the course of relations at a very tense period of Cold War politics.
The reunion of this event was held in 2019, forty-eight years after our 1971 Ping Pong Diplomacy trip to China, and George sparred with world number one Xu Xin in an event which gathered nearly 3 million Youtube views.
George was well respected in world table tennis. His was a household name in table tennis in the 70s 80s, and 90s. He represented a larger- than-life character, and was a great team player, as is verified by his many awards. He brought great recognition to, and always paid homage to, Guyana.
Always with a good word of advice, he touched countless lives and greatly moved table tennis forward in Guyana, the USA, and globally. One of his favourite quotes, and advice he would always provide read:
‘Table tennis is a thinking, person sport; and in any sport, you could practise day in and day out for many years, but unless you compete, you are not really going to get the thrill of being able to match your skills against others, which is the ultimate test of the mind’.
The GTTA website statement said: “He will always be remembered for his…fierce, competitive, witty, tactical style and skill, which were only surpassed by his incredible, positive and infectious influence and zest for life off the table.
“May our hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of the joyful times together, as we reflect and celebrate a life well lived.
I therefore wish to convey our sincere and heartfelt sympathy and condolences to family and friends of Mr. George Braithwaite, “The Chief”. May his soul rest in peace.”