Badminton may not be the most popular sport in Guyana but over the last year the sport has improved leaps and bounds. Heading the charge is a 16-year-old champion, Priyanna Ramdhani, who is taking the sport by the `shuttle’.
The youngest of the Ramdhani family, whose name is synonymous with the sport, Priyanna was born on January 2, 2002 and began playing at the tender age of four.
By the age eight she had already been awarded the National Sports Commission’s Junior Sportswoman-of-the-Year.
Now at the age of 16, Ramdhani has cemented herself as the top seed among the junior players in the Caribbean and Guyana. She is currently ranked number one in Guyana at the junior and senior level and she is also the Caribbean Regional under-17 and CAREBACO international Under-19 singles champion.
The young talent is ranked second in the CAREBACO international seniors and fourth among the South American Juniors.
With a ranking of 141 in the world, the highest by a Guyanese in the sport’s history, Ramdhani recently toured Suriname where she had more medals than anyone has ever won for Guyana at the event, taking five gold, two silver and one bronze in her run.
The Marian Academy student, who wrote the Caribbean Secondary Examinations Council (CSEC) examinations, said the tour was very fun and exciting, and provided her with tons of experience.
She pointed out that the competition was a bit challenging, especially the mixed doubles (where she played with her brother, Narayan) and her loss in the final of the female senior singles as the two most difficult events this year. Nevertheless, Ramdhani sees her recent success as a stepping stone in her long journey to become a World Champion.“This is a major stepping stone for my career, this gives me confidence to train harder to improve my level of playing at a higher standard and reach the Olympic or achieving a medal at PanAm games,” she said.
While her goal is to reach the Olympics, the former junior sportswoman plans to use her success as a means of popularizing the sport locally.
“This will help improve the popularity of badminton in Guyana to help others see what the sport is about and what they can do if they train hard and put their minds to it,” she declared.
“The people will notice the improvement and accomplishment and this will encourage them to want to train and get involved,” she added.
Apart from playing her favourite sport, Ramdhani said the sport allows her the chance to travel a lot, pointing out that she has been to 13 countries all because of badminton.
Despite having a lot of advantages, badminton does come with a price for the players.
Ramdhani noted that it was very hard to balance academics and training since both are very demanding. While she does not wish to deter anyone from playing the sport, she warns of the challenges it poses to balance both but is confident that once the individual finds the balance it will be rewarding.
Her brother who is on scholarship in Canada is an example, she pointed out.
Priyanna credits her parents and her brother for their continued support and vested interest that has helped her reach the heights.
“I give credit to my father/coach for introducing me to badminton and my brother for assisting my father with training me.
“I also would like to thank my mother family and friends and the GOA for their support,” Ramdhani said.
Next on the agenda for the young talent is the World Junior Championship in November which will see her having the opportunity to better her rankings.
Given her recent exploits this year, there is no doubt that the number one seed will be one of the front runners on the list for the 2018 NSC Awards.