by Matt Hetherington
Along with national team coaches, Gao Jun and Qi Wei of the United States, in addition to Canada’s Maxime Surprenant, a total of eight players from the United States joined five Canadian athletes in a training camp with top Korean national team juniors.
United States National Coach Development Team member, Qi Wei, praised the fantastic facility, along with the additional bonus of having two physical training coaches on-site to make sure that the programme was well-rounded and of the greatest benefit.
The players engaged in training drills, physical training and gruelling round robin matches, which began as early as the day after they arrived. The quality and intensity of training was high and the training partners from the Korean junior national team were an exceptional asset through the days of practice.
Gao Jun, echoed the sentiments and showed gratitude towards the Korean contingent for their hospitality and guidance.
“Head coach Park did everything he could to help us, he gave our players a lot of technical guidance and encouraged them not to lose courage and continue their efforts after losing a game. I think this training opportunity is a very good experience for all players. I hope such training opportunities will continue in the future.” Gao Jun
“It was a great camp for the North American players. We were lucky as the Koreans were also preparing for a competition so the plan really made sense for us. They had six junior boys, all with different styles and the same on the girls’ side. We also got to play with six players from the men’s army team. Every session had some physical training and the programme was really complete.” Maxime Surprenant
Overall it appears the experience was one of great value for the North American players and coaches.
Clearwater the destination
For the North American Para athletes, their preparation for the Lima 2019 Para Pan Am Games, which just concluded in Peru, took them to Florida in early August. Although the neighbouring nations were rivals on the table in Lima, Clearwater in the United States brought the two teams together in the search for their best form going into the event.
A total of 15 athletes, three coaches, three personal care assistants and seven volunteers from the Sunrise Table Tennis Club were present, creating an excellent environment to prepare for such a prestigious event.
The training was hosted by the Morning Side Recreation Center in Clearwater, Florida and was under the guidance of expert lead coaches. The United States Gary Fraiman and Canada’s John Macpherson took the lead as the head coaches for the training sessions.
Athletes commented on the extraordinary conditions in the facility and also the helpful nature of the staff and welcoming atmosphere of the city. The training sessions were visited George Cretekos, the Clearwater mayor and also by Virginia Sung, the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Table Tennis Association. The teams were very grateful to be shown this support.
“These camps are an amazing opportunity for the United States and Canada to train together; I am thankful to the camp organisers and volunteers for all their help.” John Macpherson
“We are hoping that this is the first camp of many in Clearwater for Para United States and Canada teams.”