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T&T Muay Thai Athletes Ready For IFMA Virtual Championship

Updated: Oct 4, 2021

The Trinidad And Tobago’s Muay Thai has been today presented at the opening ceremony for the 2021 IFMA Virtual Championship. The judging for the event starts later this evening or tomorrow (Tuesday) and some of last year’s contestants are very eager to compete again this year. Last year’s most successful participant, Arianna Ruben, is looking forward to improving the colour of her medals this time around. “I’m training as hard as I can and pushing to achieve more than I achieved last virtual championships but most importantly, I want to turn the silvers into golds.” Ruben told T&T Sport Diary. “I feel somewhere between nervous and excited. I just want to win the gold medal and get better at my craft.” The 15-year-old competed for the first time at the virtual championships in 2020 and left with three medals, the most by any local competitor. Arianna won the bronze in maxfit, silvers in shadow boxing and Wai Kru. She subsequently moved on to the United True Sport Virtual Festival where she also picked up the silver.

Arianna Ruben in some Muay Thai action ahead of the 2021 IMFA Virtual Championship.

The Couva East Secondary student had a relatively tough year for preparations as she took some months off her training to cope with the death of a relative but was quickly reminded by her support system why she began Muay Thai in the first place. “My parents as well as everyone else in my family are my number one supporters. Every time I become demotivated they remind me why I joined the sport … To be honest, the way things are going in the our country, I started doing this as a self defense and then I eventually fell in love with it. My main goal is to reach to the Olympics.”

National Nak Muay Sayuri Bhola practices ahead of the 2021 IMFA Virtual Championship.

The diversity in the ages is very alive in the sport as we have as young as 7-year-old Liam Caesar competing. Also performing in the U-10A Division we have Sayuri Bhola who’ll compete in Maxfit, Wai Kru and shadow boxing. Bhola attends Grant Memorial Presbyterian School and at eight years old, she has already spend three years in the sport. “I Chose this sport because it’s challenging and it develops self discipline. I Train six days per week, at home. I wake up at 5:30 am to enter MongKon Academy until 7am and I train evenings as well with other online classes.” The eight-year-old seems to be training as a professional and hopes that her results would match her efforts. “I feel between nervous but excited. I want to win the gold medal and get better at my craft.” Bhola, whose family is heavily invested into the sport, also has some advice any new person wishing to join Muay Thai - “It’s challenging but you can also learn some self defense and it’s healthy for you.”

Liam Caesar is Trinidad and Tobago's youngest member for the 2021 IMFA Virtual Championship

Fourteen-year-old Aiden Seepersad will also be looking to upgrade the colour of the medal as well as the amount of medals he can win. “I think I improved tremendously so I expect to have a better performance in the 2021 tournament.” The 14-year-old really enjoys the cultural aspect of Muay Thai which led to him to joining the Tazmanian Bulldogs. In last year's competition, the Trinity College East student finished third in the maxfit event and later qualified for the United True Sport Virtual Festival where he also picked up the silver, like his fellow countrywoman Arianna Ruben.

Aiden Seepersad works on his shadow boxing ahead of the 2021 IMFA Virtual Championship.

The President of the Trinbago Muaythai Association Rebecca Bhola has seen a growth in the support of the infant sport in T&T but still insists that not enough locals know about the existence of the sport locally and notes her plan to take it to another level when the covid restrictions have been lifted. "The Support has been building even though a lot of persons are still unaware of the sport locally. As we aim to grow the sport, we have a few programmes to roll out when the Covid restrictions are lifted and we're allowed to operate freely." Bhola also notes that the performances and improvements she has seen from the athletes have been impressive so she expects even more medals this time around. "All that I want from the athletes is that they do their best. I have been with them from day one in their preparations and their performances this year are a huge improvement so I expect them to medal and if they don't, I know they've done their best."

A total of eleven athletes will represent T&T at the 2021 IFMA Virtual Championships:

Liam Caesar

Sayuri Bhola

Arianna Ruben

Aiden Seepersad

Alyssa Nanan

Michael Smith

Crystal Mahabir

Damien Ablack

Darian Rajkumar

Rico Cova

Akeem Mohammed

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