I want to be among the best 10 in the world
- Niluka Karunaratne in an exclusive interview with
the ‘Daily News’ from Poland:
Sri Lanka’s undisputed badminton champion Niluka Karunaratne said his
aim is to be within the top ten shuttlers in the world. In an exclusive
telephone interview with the Daily News from Warsaw, Poland yesterday,
Karunaratne, the overall captain of the Sri Lanka contingent to London
2012 Olympic Games, said he is putting the maximum effort to improve on
his world ranking.
“My aim is to advance to the top ten men’s players in the world. It
is not easy. I am currently ranked 49th in the world and I will make
every endeavour to come within the top ten within next two years. It is
a tough task but I am confident of achieving that,” the Lankan shuttle
Niluka Karunaratne in action
Karunaratne is currently in Poland on the last leg of his world tour
to play in a series of international tournaments out of which he has won
five so far. He is expected to join the Sri Lanka contingent in London
later this week.
The 27-year-old ten-time Sri Lanka men’s singles national champion
said a top event such as Olympics demands years of training. “Most
players train two to three years to be in good shape for Olympics.
But I began my preparations last October and have been playing in
several international tournaments for the past six months. That gave me
a lot of confidence,” he said.
A proud product of Royal College, Karunaratne emulated his schoolmate
Niroshan Wijekoon who represented Sri Lanka in badminton at the 1992
Olympic Games in Barcelona. Karunaratne said Olympic demands a great
volume of dedication, devotion and hard training for several years.
He is among the top 38 men’s badminton players who will be seen in
action at Wembley Arena during the London Olympiad. In his lead up to
the Olympiad, Karunaratne played in international ranking tournaments in
South Africa and America before moving on to Scotland, Ireland, Wales
“I am playing the best badminton in my life and am training hard like
all the professionals in the world. I want to improve match by match,
sharpen my skills further and go up in the rankings,” Karunaratne added.
Asked about his chances at the men’s singles competition of the London
2012 Olympic Games, Karunaratne said he will take it match by match and
see the progress. “I have to take match by match and see how I advance.
It depends on how you play on a particular day, how you take your
opponents. I take match by match and that is how my mentality works,” he
“I am happy and honoured to lead my country at Olympic Games. But
Olympic is the highest level of competition and demands world class
skills of the highest level. It is very hard and competitive. One needs
a lot of hard training and exposure when competing at this level. But I
will make every effort to do well and make my country proud,” a
determined Karunaratne said from Poland. Ever since winning his first
major title - Under-11 All Island Age Group Championships, Karunaratne
has been going great guns winning all major badminton championships in
At the age of 16, he won both the Junior and Senior National Champion
simultaneously while he was also the junior triple ‘crown’ champion. His
impressive early form helped him to make his Sri Lanka debut in 2000 at
the Asian Championships in Indonesia
“I am really happy that I was able to make it to the Olympics. It was
a great challenge and I fulfilled that. My next aim is to get into the
top ten of the men’s world rankings. I will work hard to reach that goal
within the next two years. If I train with more dedication and apply
myself even better, I could make it,” the wonder boy in Sri Lanka
His power-packed smashes and impressive net killings have been the
hallmark of this champion shuttler who has been playing in many
international tournaments to make a tremendous advancement in world
Considering his elevation to the first 50 in the world, it will not
be that hard for the chanmpion Lankan shuttlers to advance further.
Hailing from the Southern town of Balapitiya, Niluka Karunaratne has
been coached by his father Louvie Karunaratne who has been a great
source of encouragement and inspiration to his badminton career.
There is no doubt that Karunaratne will dish out “something special”
at London Olympics. He is determined to set an exemplary role as the
overall captain of the Sri Lanka contingent.
Besides Karunaratne, the other members of the Sri Lanka contingent
are marathon runner Anuradha Indrajith Cooray, shuttler Thilini
Jayasinghe, hurdler Sonali Christine Merri and swimmers Heshan Unamboowe
and Reshika Udugampola.