Commonwealth Games: Guyanese badminton family continuing a proud legacy
Badminton runs in the blood for the Ramdhani family, represented at Birmingham 2022 by Narayan and Priyanna Ramdhani, a brother-sister team competing for South American nation Guyana.
Narayan, 24, made his Commonwealth Games bow at Gold Coast 2018, and now Guyana have earned a second berth, allowing his younger sister to join him at B2022. They are competing together in the Mixed Doubles and individually in their respective Singles events.
They were both coached by their father, Gokarn Ramdhani – an integral figure in badminton in Guyana as a player and President of the Guyana Badminton Association – until his untimely passing last year. Now, the role of the siblings’ coach has been taken on by his wife, Emelia, who is also the Secretary of the association.
We caught up with the trio at Commonwealth Games Village NEC (CGN) to find out more.
“Growing up, they’ve always been around badminton because their father was a national player and their badminton coach. They were always on the court,” Emelia explained. “As babies, they always had a music mobile that goes round in the cradle – we always had shuttlecocks in it, so they would always look up into that.
“Because of him, they went to all the different tournaments, he always had them around. He got them scholarships, too, to study in Canada and to play badminton. He died suddenly 8 October last year with a heart attack, hence me being here [at the Games], because I’m filling his role.”
Emelia’s key role, they all joke, is keep the sibling rivalry in check. So how do the two young competitors, who have been playing together, Priyanna estimates, since “I was six and when he was 10”, iron out any differences?
“Since I’m the oldest and the better player…” Narayan laughed.
Emelia added: “[Priyanna] tries to listen, but she has her own way and her own opinions … But they always look out for each other.”
“We have been playing a lot of tournaments, getting our ranking up. We’ve been training hard for this … we’re happy to be here,” Narayan said. “There’s a lot of top 20 players here, so the competition’s very hard … we’re just trying to play our hardest, see if we can win a few matches, see how far we can go and gain experience as well.”
Priyanna said: “I’m very excited to be at the Commonwealth Games because this is my first time qualifying for it. And this is my first time on this side of the world, in Europe. So far England has been amazing – good scenic views, the village has been nice … everyone is very friendly.”
Aside from excitement at competing, the youngest member of the family is also looking forward to checking out two iconic – but notably different – English sights.
“One place I want to go to is Buckingham Palace, I’ll make sure I do that. And I also watch Peaky Blinders, so I want to go to The Garrison [the Shelby family’s pub in the series, which is famously set in Birmingham].”
“They want to go to Small Heath,” Emelia added, as both her children proudly showed off their Peaky Blinders phone wallpapers.
Two spots at Birmingham 2022 represents Guyana’s biggest achievement in badminton to date, but the family already have ambitions beyond this summer, Emelia confirmed.
“Hopefully, we can qualify for the Olympics in 2024.” (https://www.birmingham2022.com/)