Ambrose Thomas, Orlando Van Rossum
– preserving ‘Multi’s rich sporting history
By Michael Benjamin
The North Ruimveldt Multilateral School has produced more than its fair share of national sportspersons.
Those that attended ‘Multi,’ as the school is familiarly called, will remember the opportunities that were available to them as they honed their sports skills.
The school catered for every sports discipline and the student that nurtured ambitions of becoming a cricketer, footballer, table tennis player or any of the vast number of disciplines, were readily accommodated.
Those were the days when the organization of sports fell under the auspices of the National Sports Development Council (NSDC) and competent personnel was dispatched to the schools to impart valuable knowledge to students interested in participating in sports.
Cricket Umpire, Clyde Duncan was then the Physical Education teacher while a host of experts, the likes of boxing coach, the late Cliff Anderson and Basketball player, Mike Brusche were among some of the notable sports stalwarts that visited the school and conducted clinics.
The structured sports programmes are now a thing of the past and only recently one of the teachers, Kirwyn Mars, lamented the absence of a structured sports programme in ‘Multi.’
He said that he had appealed to officials from the Ministry of Education to reinstitute a structured sports programme but to date no response has been forthcoming. Notwithstanding this, and coupled with the laissez-faire disposition of the decision makers, ‘Multi continues to produce sports personalities worth their salt.
The two most recent of these personalities are local Taekwando competitor Orlando Van Rossum and National table tennis player, Ambrose Thomas. Both are 15 years old students of ‘Multi.’
Van Rossum intimated that he has been practicing his trade from the tender age of four. He said he credits his involvement to the persistence of his mother, Alma Collins.
“Mummy saw an advertisement placed in the newspapers by officials of the Guyana Taekwondo Association, requesting those interested in the sport visit the Guyana Teacher’s Union (GTU) Hall in Woolford Avenue,” he said.
Van Rossum’s mother subsequently encouraged him to join the club. He did, and to this day has not regretted the decision. “Taekwando keeps me fit, inculcates discipline and most of all, keeps me out of trouble,” the young man asserted.
He said that his training regiment consists of three days of rigorous training from 17:00hrs-19:00hrs, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. During this time Orlando hones his skill in the finer art of the discipline.
Orlando’s has been involved in Taekwondo for quite sometime but his most memorable moment occurred at the 2008 Dando Cup championships at the GTU Hall. He said that in that tournament, he was required to fight 5 times against different opponents in one day. Each fight consisted of 3 rounds but unlike boxing where a round consists of 3 minutes, Taekwando practitioner’s battle for three rounds but each round comprises 2 minutes. Orlando said that he won all of his fights with one finishing inside the distance.
The young Martial Artist remembers his first overseas outing in neighbouring Suriname where he participated in the Yasin tournament. He said that he missed out on the gold medal after losing to a competitor who was at the red belt level. At that time he was a blue belt competitor. Since then Orlando has moved up 2 stages to his current black belt status. “I have learnt quite a lot from that experience,” he assures.
As such, he has set his sights on bettering his performance at the very Games later this year.
“I will train hard so that I return with the gold medal this time,” he adamantly stated. For now he is focused on his academic vocations as he is assured that retaining a sound education can be decisive to his future.
Ambrose Thomas is also 15 years old but she has no interest in Taekwondo. In fact, she is a table tennis player and has been involved in the sport for approximately 7 years. Ambrose said that she was wooed to the sport by a cousin, Trent Patterson, a former table tennis player.
“I used to admire him playing until one day he handed me a racquet to take a knock,” the shy Ambrose revealed.
Pretty soon the tennis racquet became an extension of her hand. Ambrose entered her first tournament in 2004, organized in celebration of Guyana’s 28th Republic Anniversary. She won a gold medal at that tournament. Since then she has traveled to Trinidad and Tobago as well as the Dominican Republic in pursuit of international accolades.
Her biggest competition to date is the Commonwealth Youth Tournament held in Pune, India last year. She had her eyes set on the coveted gold medal but returned home empty handed.
“It was the first time that I had experienced a competition of that high level so naturally, I was nervous,” she admitted. She also said that she was unnerved by the high quality of table tennis played at the Games. “Those were top players and they played to an exceptionally high standard,” she reminisced.
Ambrose said that she is now preparing for possible selection in the Caribbean Cadet and Junior Competition slated for St Kitts sometime in April.
She trains thrice per week under the guidance of Coach Linden Johnson at the CASH. Ambrose is currently an Agricultural student at the 4th form level. She nurtures aspirations of being an agronomist.
Like Orlando, she believes that the key to success lies in the acquisition of education. “Multi has talent,” she proudly proclaimed. Many past students have endorsed this view. Orlando and Ambrose are merely maintaining the proud tradition.