Former Caribbean junior table tennis champion Gordon Delph has passed on.
Delph died early yesterday, surrendering after a long battle with brain cancer. He was 56.
Delph was crowned regional under-17 champion in 1972. He was also a standout senior player, winning the National Championship men’s singles title seven years later.
Former Caribbean champion Mansingh Amarsingh played alongside Delph on Trinidad and Tobago teams, and was also his Giants clubmate.
“I saw him win Caribbean juniors in 1972,” Amarsingh told the Express, yesterday. “Gordon played his heart out. He played on the Giants team with me, he played on the national team, and he went to Hamburg (Germany) with the Giants team and was very successful in his games there.”
Amarsingh said that Delph, who also had playing stints with Tunapuna Tigers and Solo Crusaders, had a very good backhand block and a strong forehand loop, but more importantly, he was “a true gentleman of the game”.
Amarsingh also spoke about Delph’s prowess as a coach. At the 2004 Caribbean Championships, here in T&T, Amarsingh was technical director of the national team.
“Gordon was one of the coaches in 2004. I put him in charge of the women’s team, and they won the team title after 32 years. Gordon was very instrumental in that. He had a great knowledge of the modern game. He will surely be missed among the table tennis fraternity.”
Seamus Clarke was one of Delph’s T&T teammates at the 1985 World Championships in Sweden and the Commonwealth Championships in Isle of Man the same year.
“Gordon,” Clarke told the Express, yesterday, “was one of the toughest people to attack against. He had a wicked backhand push you needed a crane to actually lift up. He always kept the ball coming back and every so often a wicked flick or a loop in your skin.”
Long after their days as national senior team players ended, Delph and Clarke remained close friends.
“Gordon was like a brother,” Clarke explained. “We were inseparable for a number of years. The one tour I made with him was Isle of Man and Sweden. That was really amazing. He bus’ my tail in Silver Bowl semis, and the first two were going on the tour, so he made it on the team.
“He fought a long battle and he surrendered this morning,” a grieving Clarke ended. “He was ready for his God a long, long time ago.”
News of Delph’s passing reached multiple Caribbean Championship gold medallists Dexter St Louis and Rheann Chung while the France-based T&T players were training, near their home in Bordeaux. Overcome with grief, St Louis and Chung called off the session.
Delph and St Louis were teammates at Giants table tennis club.
“Gordon was one of the first persons that really welcomed me when I started to play for Giants. I remember, we were practising at Rienzi Complex, and he had a black Laurel.
“I wanted to be like Gordon, Derek (De Silva), Mansingh (Amarsingh), (Steve) Ragbir,” St Louis continued. “To me, these guys were the great gods of table tennis. Gordon welcomed me to the club. He was always somebody special.”
Delph and St Louis were teammates on the 1985 World Championship and Commonwealth Championship teams. And, on more than one occasion in the next millennium, St Louis was coached by Delph while on national team duty.
“Gordon was always different,” St Louis explained. “As a coach, he planned a lot. In 2004, when we won so many of the titles at Caribbean Championships, Gordon, Stanley (Hunte) and Collin (Cudjoe) played a big role. Gordon had started to talk to me since February that year about the Championships. We were communicating from February to July.”
St Louis told the Express that he and Delph had a lot in common, including date of birth—March 21.
“He reminded me of myself. We hardly ever saw things the Table Tennis Association (T&TTTA) way. We saw things from a different perspective.
“There is one thing in particular Gordon told me one night in Pelican (Pub), in 2002/2003. He said there were two crapauds in a well and one jump out the well and went into the ocean. The crapaud returns to the well and tells the other one that he saw so much water. The one that stayed in the well asked him: How much water? Ten times, 20 times, 30 times, 40 times... The one that went in the ocean kept saying: No, more water.
“The crapaud that remained in the well could only use the amount of water in the well to picture what the other crapaud saw. What Gordon was trying to tell me was that I will never see things eye to eye with Trinidad and Tobago table tennis, because I was the crapaud who went out into the ocean.
“Gordon was real, real different. I’m sorry to hear about his death.”
T&T Table Tennis Association (T&TTTA) president Reeza Burke also paid tribute to Delph.
“Gordon contributed in all aspects of the game—as a player, as well as giving back to the sport as a coach. On behalf of the Association, as well as the table tennis fraternity, I extend my deepest condolences to his family.”
The funeral service for Delph takes place next Wednesday, December 11, at St Theresa’s RC Church, 50 De Verteuil Street, Woodbrook, from 9.30 a.m. He will then be cremated at the Long Circular Road Crematorium.