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Plaza-Marcelle, Lee eye CAC medals
National badminton coach/manager Ronald Clarke intends to make the most of a less-than-ideal situation ahead of the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Barranquilla Colombia from July 19 to August 3.
He will take a two-member team that comprises Will Lee and Avril Plaza-Marcelle, winners of the recent national playoffs, to represent the red, white and black among many other nations. But his first challenge will be to secure a proper training facility at the National Racquet Centre in Tacarigua, after being made to use the East Mucurapo Secondary and the Valencia High Schools which provide surfaces that are not conducive to what they will play on in Colombia.
With just about three weeks to go before the start to the CAC, Clarke has already scheduled a meeting with Hayden Mitchell, the tennis president, for use of the Tacarigua facility. His team will attempt to turn back a bleak history in which the last time the country won medals at the CAC was in 1990, through Debra O'Connor, a bronze medal winner in the singles, as well as a team bronze from O'Connor and Clarke.
Derwin Renales, a former president of the T&T Badminton Association confirmed yesterday that the country's best performance in recent times was in 2014 when the team got past the first round but failed to medal.
Clarke though is particularly confident of a good show and possible medals, with two super fit players in his fold. Lee he said posted the best performance at last weekend's beep test of the T&T Olympic Committee while Plaza-Marcelle, it is understood, also produced a top performance among the women.
They will both be fine-tuned from a programme designed to enhance their abilities technically and tactically.
Clarke said his players are eager and will not be going to make up numbers but to win medals. "At this point, however, we are at a disadvantage until we begin using a facility similar to what we will be playing on," Clarke explained.
Yesterday, Plaza-Marcelle told Guardian Media Sports she can only hope for the best with the training that will be afforded to her. "I cannot predict the future but I will do the best I can to bring back home a medal," she noted.
Lee on the other-hand believes a medal will be within reach once he prepares himself mentally and physically. "It is more mental preparation for me because I believe my level is on par with those internationally. I just need to maintain my focus when it gets tough," Lee said.
Coincidentally Lee was on the 2014 team that progressed past the first round. "I was a junior player then, but this time I want to make my mark as a senior," Lee explained.
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