Iconic Trinidad and Tobago table tennis player Dexter St Louis passed away today in France, where he played professionally in Bordeaux. He was 51.
A release from St Louis’ family, issued through attorney Matthew Gayle, said he died after ‘a short illness’ surrounded by his wife, Jeromaine Chung-St Louis and daughters, Rheann Chung and Axelle. His family welcomed prayers but asked to be allowed to grieve in private.
Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis said he was stunned by his sudden passing.
“It is shocking news to us; it almost leaves you speechless,” Lewis told Wired868. “Firstly condolences to his wife, stepdaughter, all his colleagues and teammates. Dexter has served his country well with dedication and determination throughout the years.”
Almost certainly, history will remember St Louis as Trinidad and Tobago’s greatest table tennis player of all time. The explosive left-hander is the only player to represent the twin island republic at the Olympic Games in his field—and he did it twice, in 1996 and 2008.
And, even at the age of 50, he was still worth his place on the world stage. St Louis won two of his four outings at the Goldcoast 2018 Commonwealth Games, which included a triumph over Northern Ireland’s Ashley Robinson who, at 24 years old, was less than half his age.
St Louis first represented Trinidad and Tobago on the international stage at the age of 15 in 1983 and he was 26 when he scooped up his first major accolade by seizing the Caribbean crown. In the process, St Louis ended his country’s 16-year title drought in the competition.
He went on to win the tournament four more times while he snagged his last Trinidad and Tobago singles title in 2016—in what turned out to be his swan-song on local soil.
Often, St Louis had his stepdaughter, Chung, for company in a father-daughter partnership for the ages. Chung won her first Caribbean title in 2003—ending a barren run of over two decades for T&T table tennis women—and also has five regional trophies to her name.
St Louis and Chung were regular mixed doubles champions at local and regional level while they won one of two matches together at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
In recent times, the pair have been as renowned for their wins off the table tennis board as on it. Last year, St Louis and Chung successfully took the local Table Tennis Association to the High Court for unfair selection practices, after both were left off the Commonwealth Games team.
St Louis’ advocacy was not restricted to self-interest, though, and he often commented on issues involving athletes and offered advice to emerging stars. He was a regular commenter on Wired868.
Lewis described the dreadlocked veteran as someone who never shirked from a challenge and displayed great moral consistency.
“He showed his character and resilience on numerous occasions,” said the TTOC president, “and stood up in a number of situations in which he brought to attention numerous issues that required change.
“We have had many conversations over the years—often by e-mail—and it didn’t matter how contentious the issue, he called it as he saw it; and he stood up for what he believed in.”
(Statement from St Louis’ family)
On behalf of the family of Dexter St Louis, it is with great regret and sadness that we announce the death of Trinidad and Tobago’s most indomitable table tennis champion and two-time Olympic qualifier, Dexter St. Louis.
Born 21st March 1968, Dexter first represented Trinidad and Tobago in Table Tennis in 1983, at the age of 15. In the early 1990’s after defeating France based players and winning the tournament in Martinique he received his first full professional contract to play with a club in France. Dexter continued to represent his country proudly, most recently at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. Dexter notably qualified for the 1996 Atlanta, and 2008 Beijing, Olympics, the only Trinidad and Tobago Table Tennis player to ever qualify for the Olympics.
Dexter will be remembered for his relentless work ethic, sense of humour and passion for justice, as well as for his honesty, fair-play and his open and transparent approach to sport and to life.
Dexter died after a short illness on the evening of Thursday 16th May 2019 in Bordeaux, France, surrounded by his wife, Jeromaine and two daughters, Rheann (Chung) and Axelle. He will be dearly missed.
The family welcomes prayers at this time, but ask that in this difficult time they be allowed to grieve in private.