By Sean Devers
After being nominated for the last three years National Senior and Junior Badminton Champion 17-year-old Narayan Ramdhani says he was somewhat surprised to finally cop the Junior Sportsman of the year Award when the National Sports Commission (NSC) held its annual Sports Awards last week.
“Yeah, I was kinda surprised since I was nominated for the last three years but never won,” Narayan stated.
His biggest challenge for the Award must have been U-19 cricketer Shemron Hetymer, who batted well for the West Indies U-19 side in last year’s Senior 50-over tournament, before helping Guyana to the Regional U-19 title and Captaining the West Indies to their first ever U-19 World Cup in which he scored a century in a warm up match.
When Hetymer returned from Bangladesh he registered his maiden First-Class hundred against Jamaica in the final round for Guyana at the senior level but in the end Narayan prevailed.
It was the first National Award for the talented Narayan who writes with his left hand but does almost everything else including playing Badminton with his other hand.
Narayan, who first represented his Country at the tender age of seven, and as the youngest member of the side, emerged as the only player to win medals with two ‘Gold and a Silver’ in Suriname.
Since then Narayan, who turns 18 on the 3rd of next month, has grown in the sport and dominates the game in Guyana, where just a handful of outstanding players have been produced in recent times.
Holder of both National Senior and junior titles, the hard working teenager is presently the only internationally ranked Guyanese Junior player and recently was awarded a scholarship to further both his academic and sporting career in Canada.
After attending seven International tournaments and wins at the Caribbean level, a third place at the Pan American Championships and another third place in the South American Championships, his international ranking jumped to 52 in the world at the junior level.
After his most successful year on the International stage Naryan became the first Guyanese Badminton player to be awarded a five-year Sports scholarship. The well spoken young man was approached by five North American badminton schools but with the assistance of Canadian Coach Al Manani (who made everything possible) he opted for the Shuttle Sport International Club which is owned by Manani.
He will also attend the Douglas College who is likely to find a University for him after he completes Collage. Both his College and Club’s tuition will be paid for by the North American institutions.
Narayan’s father and Coach, Gokarn Ramdhani, said the other expenses that the scholarship does not cover could be funded by sponsors and Gokarn, who is also the President of the Guyana Badminton Association, is hoping that the GOA and NSC can provide some funding.
Narayan’s hobbies include Cricket, Football, Basketball and action movies. He feels that the scholarship should improve his standard of badminton and his level of Academics.
Narayan, who went to the ABC primary school before attending the Marian Academy, informed that he is scheduled to leave for his scholarship in September but will defend his Caribbean title in August in Aruba in his final year as a junior.
“I will also play in this year’s Pan American Championships in Peru. This year I think my play has improved a lot,” Narayan added.
“I won a Bronze medal in the Pan Am and three Gold Medals in Suriname and I am looking forward to going to Canada since the standard of players and facilities should be much better than here in the Caribbean, while the standard of Education should be high also,” Naryan said.
“My goal for the next five years is to play more International tournaments, getting into the seniors ranking and qualify for the 2020 Olympics. If I had one wish it would be to win a gold medal at the Olympics and I intend to work really hard to make that dream come true,” the youth promised.
“The Caribbean does not really view Racket Sports as important as they should while the standard of badminton in Guyana could be better. We need more players and facilities, especially outside of Georgetown,” the National Junior Sportsman of the year lamented.
In the 1980s Guyana dominated the Caribbean in this sport and players like several times Caribbean Champion Sean Barnwell, Peter Parone, Grandison Robinson and Gokarn Ramdhani were among the outstanding male players which made local competitions strong.
On the distaff side you had Koren Thomas, the badminton Queen of the Caribbean for a long time, while Amada Lowe, Sharon Latchmansingh and Nichola Devers all represented Guyana at a time when Guyana’s Badminton was of a high standard.
Narayan said that now he is getting to participate in more tournaments outside of the Caribbean his badminton has improved since he has to compete with players from the USA, Canada and Mexico.
“I grew up in a family that loved Badminton so it was only natural that I was drawn to the sport. I heard my dad was a good player when he played for Guyana but I never saw him play at that level. My sister Priyanna is a National junior player and I know my mom played a bit,” Narayan informed.
The young man who has played in Suriname, T&T, Barbados, Jamaica, Porto Rico, Canada, USA, Mexico, Peru, Dominican Republic and Colombia, knows what he wants and is working hard to achieve it.
Can Naryan Ramdhani join Boxer Mike Parris, who won Bronze in the 1980 Olympics, on the medal podium in the 2020 Olympics? Only time will tell.
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