Friday, December 15, 2017

Chariandy-Balwant, Rampersad top badminton awards

THE old saying "age is just a number" is certainly one to which Virginia Chariandy-Balwant can relate.

Despite being 50 years old and one of the Caribbean's leading players of the late 1070s and 80s, Chariandy-Balwant will be the Trinidad and Tobago Badminton Association's (TTBA) nominee for Sportswoman of the Year for the second consecutive year.

This was announced on Saturday night when the first-ever TTBA annual prize-giving ceremony took place at Central Regional Indoor Sports Arena, Chaguanas.

Rahul Rampersad will be the nominee for Sportsman of the Year, while Matthaus and Kristi Reno-Singh will be the badminton representatives at the annual First Citizens Youth Awards Ceremony, which is set for Friday at Hyatt Regency's Ballroom in Port of Spain. Balwant was a distant second to Solange Guzman in 2012, but gets the nod as her doubles partner is still in the process of becoming a Trinidad and Tobago citizen.

The Cuban has been residing here for over two years, and competed in local colours for the first time last season. Guzman won a triple crown in the National Championships as well as the Venezuela Open, and walked away with silver medals in singles and doubles in the Caribbean Championships (CAREBACO) in Dominican Republic in August.

Balwant proved that she is still a force to be reckoned with as the former multiple Caribbean doubles champ was Guzman's partner in CAREBACO, "Nationals" and in Venezuela.

In addition to being crowned national champ for the second time and also combining with Guzman for mixed doubles gold in Venezuela, Rampersad picked up a bronze medal in doubles in the Suriname Open.

Reno-Singh, the leading under-17 and under-19 player in the country, and two-time national under-19 champion Wilford were the outstanding juniors, as they not only won seven titles at home last year, but also secured bronze medals in doubles at the Caribbean Junior Championships in the Dominican Republic in August.

Jada Renales actually won more titles on local soil as she completely dominated the under-15 category to end the year with eight trophies.

Sheraz Nabbie, who thoroughly entertained the audience during the function with a calypso he wrote himself, and Leon Cassie had six titles apiece in the under-17 and under-13 divisions, respectively, one more than Stephon Butler took in the under-11 age-group, and two more than Nirad Ramlal accumulated among the under-15s last year.

The other youngsters honoured Saturday night were Reba Fleary and Ananda Ramsingh, who captured two titles apiece in the under-19 and 13 divisions, respectively. Ramsingh also won a bronze medal in the Caribbean Junior Championships. Central Badminton Academy & Club was awarded the prize for Most Outstanding Club.   

National doubles champ Derwin Renales and former national champions Sabrina Cassie, Daron Dasent and Nadine Julien were honoured for their contribution in the field of coaching.

Also recognised was Shawn Sookdeo, an accredited umpire by the Badminton World Federation who runs all local tournaments, and long-time sponsor Solo Beverages Limited.

TTBA vice-president Melvin Thomas, a leading coach and administrator for over 30 years, and Trevor Smith, a former national champ who has served the sport for over 40 years, including being a former TTBA boss for 15 straight years, received lifetime achievement awards.