The 2020 Central American Championships Hosted in Belize
A regional table tennis competition is taking place in Belize. It is being hosted by the Belize Table Tennis Association and as many as a hundred and ten players will be competing. The local players are hoping to make their mark against seasoned and skilled players from neighbouring countries. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.
Duane Moody, Reporting
For the first time in Belize’s history, the Central American Championships in table tennis—in the male and female under-fifteen, under-eighteen, team competition, mixed doubles and singles categories—are being held in Belize. Teams and their respective support staff from eight countries, including Mexico, are participating in the five-day competition, which began on January fourth at the Mexico Sports Center adjacent to the Marion Jones Sporting Complex in Belize City.
Arturo Vasquez, President, Belize Table Tennis Association
“Quite a big event. We have about a hundred and ten players. We started on Tuesday and we should be finished by midday Saturday so that’s about four and a half days of competition. Each delegation has about twenty-three people in it so we have quite a crowd. Belize is honoured to host this event. People from the international federation are coming in today so they are also supporting the whole initiative that we are doing. Table tennis was dormant for almost twenty-five years; before that it was my time when I was doing this in other countries. So we started concentrating on the kids since 2013 so this event is also important because this is about the kids and that’s where the development and future champions come from.”
The best of the best are competing for an opportunity to qualify for the Pan American Games. Earlier today, Belize faced off against the Salvadoran team and lost three to two; a win would have automatically advance team Belize. But all is not lost says President Arturo Vasquez who is hopeful that some of Belize’s talented players will advance.
“We would have qualified at least in fourth position and also we would have qualified for the Pan American Games. Right now we are playing Panama so let’s see what we can do there. The competition here is extremely high. We are hoping that in individual, Tae Parkinson is a name that you have heard in table tennis for a while. Tae has won the under thirteen, under eleven—sorry not won, but he has placed in the top four—so hopefully this year, he is the only one that we have in the under fifteen that is still at a high level. So we are hoping that he will do well in that. And then we have Devesh Hukmani and some other players that are hopeful in the under eighteen.”
In between matches, we caught up with athletes Devesh Hukmani and Kelly Liu who are both playing in the under-eighteen category. They contend that the players from the other countries are highly skilled, but they are putting their strategy to work in order to come out on top.
Kelly Liu, Under-18 Category, 2020 Central American Championships
“The other countries are obviously very strong and we just aim to do our best and to like gain experience from it and learn from the other countries, the players.”
Devesh Hukmani, Under-18 Category, 2020 Central American Championships
“The competition has been very great. I had a slow start into the competition playing in one of the top teams in this tournament, Mexico. I competed and ended up losing three-one, but nonetheless I played very well. And today, I had a very great started beating two of Salvador’s best players and I just played against Panama’s best at the moment. Representing Belize, it makes me more confident especially playing at home rather than put pressure on me. So I take it more as confidence and I play better. To play against these guys, you need to think very smart. Each adjustment is very important so you just have to play short and play more aggressive than the opponent.”