|Don Henley Averia
ALEXANDRIA, Virginia - The son of a Filipino-American couple from Waldorf, Maryland recently won the gold medal at the 21st Pan-American Junior Badminton Championships in Canada.
Don Henley Averia, who turned 9 last February, topped his division in the under-11 age group at the junior badminton tilt held in Edmonton, Canada on July 25-29.
The games drew the most promising shuttlecock players in the Under-11 to Under-13 categories from 16 countries.
It was his first Badminton World Federation (BWF) tournament, mother Treldy enthused. “I am very proud of this win,” she said.
“He feels victorious because he was up against a 10-year-old Peruvian boy who was about 3 inches taller than him,” his mother revealed, adding that the gold medal was a “big reward” for all the preparation that required daily practices for the past 3 months.
He was the only Fil-Am in the US badminton juniors team. He earned the slot by winning the qualifying trials held in Boston, Ma. last April via a 7-0 sweep of his games.
Don has been playing badminton since he was 5 years old and likely adopted the sport from his father who plays it for recreation and exercise.
The family is currently based in Qatar so Don goes to the international school there.
“We would bring him to the badminton court with us whenever we had time to play,” she recounted. “He was fascinated by the quick moves of the game and how one could outsmart his opponent.”
He later joined the Qatar Badminton Academy where he swept games in the singles and doubles categories for both the Under-10 and Under-13 age groups.
“He has always been praised for his excellent footwork and intelligence in the court. During his first tournament outside Qatar, he was voted Most Promising Player,” Treldy told the Manila Mail.
Don points to 28-year-old Chinese 4-time world and reigning Olympic badminton champion Lin Dan as his biggest sports hero.
“Badminton is something he would love to pursue professionally,” she averred. “He hopes to uplift the level of badminton in America.”
“Most Americans regard it as a backyard sport – something anyone could play while cooking barbecue on a hot summer day. There are very few badminton courts in the East Coast although Treldy says it’s fast gaining popularity in the West Coast, especially in California.
“It’s his dream to play for the US team in the Olympics,” the boy’s mom stressed. “He would love to play for the Philippines we have not had the chance to try-out for the junior squad.”
She confessed they seldom visit the Philippines anymore so it was difficult for Don to participate in tournaments so he can qualify for the national team.