\Barbados’ table tennis ace Tyrese Knight is ready to take his game to the next level and who better to take him there than former United States national coach Jörg Bitzigelo who is based in San Francisco.
The 21-year-old Knight for the past couple of months has been touring the United States and also Qatar where he featured in a special International Table Tennis Federation high-performance camp with his manager Sherdon Pierre.
During a telephone interview with Barbados TODAY, Knight, a former Caribbean junior champion, said he was happy to be afforded this opportunity to train for two weeks with some of the world’s best in the United States.
“Well, the camp is going really well and I am able to work with the coach closely to fix some problems in my game. Of course, they won’t be fixed in two weeks but it’s a step in the right direction,” Knight said.
“At the moment everything is going well with him [Bitzigelo] and I am able to do one and one sessions with him which is good because I have not had this at any camp before,” he added.
Bitzigelo is the personal coach to the world number 30 ranked player Kanak Jha who moved back to America from Germany and has his sights set on representing the United States’ table tennis national team at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Signia Globe Financial is a sponsor of the flashy right-handed Knight who said that attending these camps was extremely important for his overall development.
“Sponsorship is important for any athlete. There are so many things to take care of especially with the body massages, nutrition, etc, so sponsorship is the key for any athlete to help them reach the top,” Knight said.
He also stressed that being able to connect with Bitzigelo was a good step in the right direction for his progress in the sport. He also does not have a coach to travel with when on tour, so any advice given by Bitzigelo will assist his game.
Knight reasoned that his style of play now was the same as Bitzigelo when he competed years ago and that makes their bond much stronger. However, he noted that not having a personal coach by his side was tough.
“For me attending camps is ideal but without a coach, it’s not really serving a purpose because I have been to many camps where I had no coach. Everyone’s coach is there pushing them, seeing their mistakes etcetera,” Knight explained.
Knight’s comments of not having a coach stem from earlier this year in April when he attended the Olympic Qualifiers in Salón Metropolitano Stadium in Rosario, Argentina without a national coach assigned. He had to depend on Guyana national coach Idi Lewis for guidance during the match.
As to how Knight managed to get in contact with Bitzigelo, he said: “It’s not really a camp that was highlighted. He [Bitzigelo] just told me he was organizing something and it will be beneficial for me to come and get an overview of everything. I reached out to him before about working with [him] personally. So basically, this is the stepping stone to working with the coach.”
“It’s also good for me because he played the same style as me when he was playing. So there is so much I can learn from him,” Knight further stated.
When the two weeks are up Knight said his goal is to have a long-term plan of working more with Bitzigelo who has a stellar background in sports management, sports science and business administration. In 2017 he was named the United States Table Tennis High-Performance Director. He was also the head coach for Germany’s women’s national team in 2006.
Knight has come a long way having passed through the care of Trevor Farley, one of Barbados’ best ever table tennis players. He has the ambition of representing Barbados someday at the Olympics. Despite missing the opportunity recently to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, Knight is determined to come back much stronger next time around.
Not yet certain what tournaments he may feature in this year, one thing for certain Knight who considers South Korean table tennis player Joo Se Hyuk as his hero is determined to fulfill his other dream of playing professionally for a leading table tennis club.