Navor Suarez has practised judo for over two decades, becoming a high-performance athlete at age 16.
Hailing from Caracas, Venezuela, Navor has resided in Trinidad with his family for just under two years. While many of his compatriots have migrated to other Latin American countries as a result of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in his homeland, Navor chose Trinidad to improve his English, for work opportunities, and what he hopes will be a better future for his six-year-old son.
He has eight siblings and affirms that his parents’ love, financial and emotional support as an athlete were the things that grounded him during his career.
Before coming to Trinidad and Tobago, he researched judo clubs and reached out to Sensei Mark Littrean at the Queen’s Park Judo Club. He was invited to train with the club and even participated in a competition in Claxton Bay. He loved the experience and welcomed the opportunity to participate in local competition.
Navor shares that his international experiences have had a lasting and positive impact on his life. Navor has competed in judo nationally and internationally travelling to Spain, Japan and Mexico with his country’s national team.
Unfortunately, the results in international competition were not always as expected. Judo in Venezuela is an amateur sport and all expenses are covered by the athlete and their family.
“In judo, combats are short, in five minutes you can win or lose based on points.” The sport requires mental strength, grit and resilience in your daily training and preparation for competition. He acknowledges, “One has to sacrifice many things in order to achieve the desired outcomes.”
How did he become involved in sport?
“It was mandatory in my primary school to engage in a sporting activity, so I chose judo after several attempts at other sports like baseball and taekwondo.”
When did you become seriously involved in judo?
“Immediately. At 11, I began to participate in national competitions and state championships. I would participate in week-long tournaments living, training and competing with the best athletes in my age-group.”
What would you like to share based on your experiences in Trinidad?
“My experience as a high-performance athlete, access to a space that integrates Trinidadian and Venezuelan youth to train and share their experiences.”
What is your life philosophy?
The proudest moments of your career?
“My international travels with the Venezuelan national team, and representing my university, Instituto Pedagogico de Caracas, and Universidad Nacional de las Fuerzas Armadas.”
Who has been the most influential person in your professional career?
“Ludwing Ortiz and Sensei Jesus Nieto were popular judo stars in my country. They mentored me.”
What do you look forward to in the future?
“New opportunities, and new experiences in Trinidad and Tobago for my family.”
Jamila Cross is a triathlete, former professional footballer for Sevilla FC women’s Club Spain, and mother of three boys Tishad, Akim and Santiago. She is the founder of the Mariama Foundation, a registered non-profit organisation raising the storytelling bar for the Caribbean’s female athletes.