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Aug 9, 2017

Table Tennis Players Hard at Work Despite Bronze Success

Belize’s team to the 2017 Central American Pre-Infantile under-eleven and under-thirteen Table Tennis Championships in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, returned with two bronze medals in boys’ play and improved performances across the discipline.  The seven players are Taye Parkinson, Devesh Hukmani, Jofny Paguaga, Goran Gabourel and in the female category, Sarai Paguaga, Abigail Thurton and Gabrielle Gabourel. Parkinson and Hukmani won their group in the team event qualification, but lost in the quarterfinal to Mexico. They had greater success in the male doubles; losing out in five sets to Guatemala’s ‘A’ team for a bronze medal. In the singles category, the trio of young women could not secure medals, but Hukmani fought his way to a bronze. But it was back to work at the Body 2000 gym today as Hukmani and Parkinson prepare for the significantly tougher international junior championship. News Five’s Aaron Humes has more.


Aaron Humes, Reporting

On his way to two bronze medals in singles and doubles table tennis competition recently in Honduras, twelve-year-old Devesh Hukmani had to work back from two sets down against Costa Rica’s Matias Uribe. He said he called on all the skills he has learned thus far in this mentally and physically demanding discipline.


Devesh Hukmani

Devesh Hukmani, Bronze Medallist, U-13 Singles

“It was very horrifying in the beginning because I was down, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to win; but my coaches helped me a lot, got me mentally strong, and then I came up slowly, slowly and took the sets, slowly by slowly and won the game. You need to be very fast and stable in this sport, and you need to be mentally strong; so I like that because I like to challenge myself.”


Devesh’s doubles partner Taye Parkinson, a former under-eleven medallist, agrees. He says the gap between Belize and the other participating countries is closing.


Taye Parkinson

Taye Parkinson, Doubles Bronze Medallist

“It was kind of scary going against the very top countries, but since we are getting closer to their level, we could kind of manage against them.”


The boys were back in training this afternoon at the Body 2000 gym after returning from Tegucigalpa on Tuesday. Next week they will be off to El Salvador for the International Table Tennis Federation’s World Cadet Junior Circuit Championship, the highest level of table tennis at their age. Technical Director for the Belize Table Tennis Association, Gabriel Guerrero, says the results from this tournament will spur Belize on to greater glory.


Gabriel Guerrero

Gabriel Guerrero, Technical Director, Belize Table Tennis Association

“These students have been training here at our Body 2000 facility for about two years now; initially we started with classes where it’s about an hour, three times for the week, but as the competitions became more of a priority for us, we started to readjust our schedules and getting assistance with more coaching here, they are doing full-time training now every day, two hours per day. Leading up to this particular event, we utilized the summer vacation; so we planned classes for them two times a day at three hours per session and we have also been focusing a lot on building up their physical strength for these games. So they also have work in the gym, they have sessions at the Marion Jones Complex in the early morning – running, building up their endurance; things like that.  We’ve registered these same two players that got bronze, Taye and Devesh, to play in that event. It’s a big opportunity for us; a lot of these tournaments are held in Europe and North America and China, so this one being here in this region is an opportunity for us to try to take them out and further their knowledge for the sport. We just came back yesterday – usually they get a week off to recover from the event – but we are back here training and preparing for the next one.”


Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.


The Association has been working with schools to teach table tennis and regularly hosts tournaments for senior and junior players and is exploring the possibility of building outdoor table tennis courts for parks, as well as obtaining a larger facility to accommodate the rising number of persons interesting in learning the sport. The Association thanks the Belize Olympic Committee, coaches Wilber Bientz, Juana Barbara and Gabriel Guerrero, team doctor Manuel Paguaga and other team boosters for their support.

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