TT pro table tennis player Rheann Chung is keen on elevating her second division club – TT Passageois – into the top flight of the French Clubs Women’s Pro for the 2021 competitive season.
Chung, who has been competing in France for the past 20 years, recently missed out on securing Tokyo Olympic qualification. Undeterred, the seasoned player has now shifted focus to the French Club Play-Offs which serve off in June.
Over the next few weeks, Chung remains hopeful the covid19 restrictions in France are rolled back a bit. She plans to head to Paris to put some time in on the table to improve her craft and increase the chances of her team’s progress into the highest division.
“Next stop is to prepare for the French Clubs Play-Offs in June with my club TT Passageois. Our target is to go up in the French Clubs Women’s Pro.
“I’m hoping by then that the covid19 restrictions ease a bit. I will have to get back to Paris and prepare for this important event.
“I have not been competing since October 2020. The table tennis season in France has been suspended due to covid19 since October,” she said.
At the Olympic qualifiers – 2021 Latin American Singles and Mixed Doubles in Argentina – two weeks ago, Chung lost both her first-round matches to South American opponents.
Like all players in France and around the world, the covid19 restrictions hampered Chung’s training and competition ahead of the qualifiers.
She practised her table work in a garage for about five months and two weeks before the qualifiers, the 36-year-old went to a training centre in Paris to sharpen up.
According to Chung, her unavoidable lack of competition before the Argentina meet slimmed her chances of advancing.
“Yes, I was unable to qualify for Tokyo. I do not feel too disappointed because I gave it my all. I was not distracted although there were mostly factors that were not in my favour.
“I did my best. I am a fighter. I was feeling well physically and mentally and I played well but the lack of competition showed in my performances.
“I would definitely make an attempt to qualify for Paris 2024,” she added.
On May 16, 2019, Chung’s stepfather – iconic TT table tennis pro player Dexter St Louis – passed away in France. He played professionally in Bordeaux.
St Louis first represented TT in 1983, at the age of 15. In the early ’90s, he defeated several France-based players to win a tournament in Martinique. The veteran then received his first full professional contract to play with a France-based club.
St Louis also qualified for the 1996 Atlanta and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and remains the only national table tennis player to ever qualify for the Summer Games. He also represented TT at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Chung’s father was her sole inspiration to exceed in the sport. He trained, motivated and was her core support system. However, her stepfather’s passing has since served as an added drive for her to continue chasing greatness in the sport.
“I left France on May 22, 2019 to compete at the Pan Am qualifiers during May 24 – 25. My 'dad' died on May 16. I returned for his funeral on May 29.
“I qualified (at Pan Am) under extreme sadness and grief. This is my mental. So there is nothing that can stop or hinder me from making another attempt to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
“I miss him every day. It’s still difficult for me to live, travel and compete without him. I hear him in my head and feel him around me all the time. There is always a sign showing up to remind me of him wherever I go.
“Even on my way to the airport in Argentina I saw on a billboard on the highway with the name Dexter written,” said Chung.
This was her fourth attempt at qualifying for the Olympic Games.
Chung is a five-time Caribbean women’s singles champion and three-time (1999, 2015, 2016) national champion.
She is also a close friend of recovering national boxer Michael Alexander. Chung is responsible for creating a FundMeTnt page for the ailing boxer who was involved in a motorcycle accident in Diego Martin on January 27. The account is still open for persons to donate to his cause.