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Guzman chasing Venezuela hat-trick

By Shammi Kowlessar

SOLANGEL GUZMAN is eyeing a hat-trick in the Venezuela International Badminton Tournament.
The US$5,000 tournament will be contested from tomorrow until Sunday and the Cuban is among four players representing Trinidad and Tobago.
Guzman, who has been residing here for over four years and is in the process of becoming a citizen, is the only player to win the women’s singles crown as this tournament has only been staged twice.
The 29-year-old actually captured a triple crown in the inaugural edition in 2012, but she was this country’s only representative last year and did not have partners for doubles and mixed doubles.
This year’s contingent is an impressive one as Kerwyn Pantin, Nekeisha Blake and Nicholas Bonkowsky will back up Guzman, the ’06 CAC (Central America and the Caribbean) Games gold medallist who turned in the highlight performance of her career last year when she picked up the bronze medal in the Pan American Championships.
Guzman was crowned national champion for the third straight time a couple months ago when Blake stretched his record to eight men’s titles. Bonkowsky, a Canadian with local roots, reached the final in only his second tournament in this country.
Blake returned in the National Championships from a two-year absence because of a knee injury which resulted in surgery and the five-time national champ reached the semifinals in singles and mixed doubles and the final in doubles.
The players have trained for this tournament under the watchful eyes of Daron Dasent, who was crowed national champ six times in the 1990s, and Sheldon Caldeira, a seven-time national doubles champ in the same decade.
National head coach Dasent, who was at the helm when T&T picked up bronze medals in the 2005 Caribbean Championships and ’10 CAC Games, and Melvin Thomas, former vice-president of the Trinidad and Tobago Badminton Association, are also in Venezuela.
Thomas, who has been involved in the sport in many capacities for over 30 years, will be participating in a Badminton World Federation (BWF) Coaching Course during the tournament.
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