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May 28, 2020

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Dexter St Louis’ death, at 51, was as enigmatic as his life.

The famed local table tennis player died last week after what his family described in a statement as “a short illness.”

St Louis’ family has called for privacy as they mourn his loss.

That doesn’t make the famous tennis player’s death any less of a shock. St Louis maintained a professional level of performance in an Olympic sport for his entire life.

It was both his fortune and misfortune to excel in a sport regarded as “soft,” performing at a sustained level never seen before in TT and rarely demonstrated in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In a career spanning three and a half decades, St Louis made his debut representing TT in table tennis at the age of 15.

After defeating players based in France in the early 1990s, he won his first professional club contract in France.

His professional club was Camp Bordeaux, and he played there from the age of 24. St Louis competed at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and at 40, returned to world class competition for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the only local player to qualify at that level of the game.

According to the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), at his passing St Louis was ranked at position 912 globally, having achieved a career peak ranking of 237. He is listed as an attacking left-handed player with a shakehand grip. The ITTF lists his total wins at 74 out of 117 matches, a 63 per cent win ratio. He worked closely with his stepdaughter Rheann Chung in the game, and they competed in mixed pairs competition with notable success. In 2018, after a fierce legal fight with the TT Table Tennis Association and the eventual withdrawal of two competitors from the track and field team, both the TTTTA-selected players and the team of St Louis and Chung competed at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

It would be the last time that he would compete on behalf of TT.

St Louis will be remembered for his fierce commitment to the game of table tennis and his quality representation.

His tussles with local table tennis bodies over qualification also leaves the local sporting world to consider the continuing challenge of reconciling quality representation on the international stage with the athlete’s need to keep working at the highest level to maintain their form.

St Louis’ decision to base his professional career in France was not a snub of this country, but a top athlete’s decision to keep testing and raising his game in the best environment possible.

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