Trinidad and Tobago's Dickson Maughn is excited about representing his country at the World Draughts Championships, in Russia, in June, and says the support of his family has played a big role in his successful qualification bid.
The national champion qualified for the global event by finishing fourth in the February 17-March 3 Pan American Draughts Champion-ships, at Cascadia Hotel in St Ann's.
The top four finishers at the 17th edition of the hemispheric tournament qualified for the World Championships. Brazil's Allan Silva successfully defended his crown, while American Nicolas Derival finished second, and Dominican Republic's Angel Mejia, third.
The other T&T players, Andy Charles, Timothy Dennis and Keith Sylvester, were eighth, 14th and 15th, respectively.
Speaking to the Express after booking his trip to Russia, Maughn said: "It is a very big moment representing Tri-nidad and Tobago on the world stage. Right now, once I go I am looking to win.
"I got a lot of motivation from my family," he continued. "They believed I could do it and they knew once I put my mind to it, I could qualify. It was the first time they saw me train so hard."
The T&T champion said he is self-coached, but, on the request of the Ministry of Sport, will work with Dutch coach Harm Wiersma, who helped prepare the other local players for the Pan American Champion-ships.
"I agreed to have him for World Champion-ships…I really want to win."
T&T Draughts and Checkers Association president, Rufus Foster said all the T&T players benefitted from Wiersma's expertise. He explained that while Maughn did not attend any sessions with Wiersma, the national champion played against players who had benefitted from the coach's input. Wiersma, a six-time world champion, arrived in T&T a month before the Pan American tournament.
Foster also said he has made representations to the Minister of Sport, asking that players be assisted when they sacrifice income to represent the country.
"They should be compensated for that...something must be put in place."
Maughn is expected to travel to Spain in May to play in a warm-up tournament, ahead of the World Champs.