Giant-killer NILUKA ready for more
Giant-killer Niluka Karunaratne will make every effort to spring
another surprise when he competes in the pre-quarter finals of the men's
singles event of the XXXth Olympiad badminton competition to be worked
off at Wembley Arena here in the British capital today.
Karunaratne, who crushed world no. 8 Kenichi Tago of Japan in
straight sets 2-0 in the first round of men's singles on Monday, is
roaring to dish out another superlative performance.
When questioned by Lankan media team about his progress at the
Olympics, the undisputed local shuttle king said that he would take
match by match. “I take match by match. Every game is important and I
will try my best to win every game. I am prepared to fight it out and
play my best, irrespective of the rating of the opponent,” he said.
The overall captain of the Sri Lanka contingent said he was happy to
go as the underdog and win his first round match against a much fancied
opponent who is ranked eighth in the world. “Winning such a crucial
alone is a memorable experience and I would like to thank all those who
made this dream come true, Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, NOC
President Hemasiri Fernando, Secretary Maxwell de Silva, My coaches,
sponsor, officials and family members for supporting and encouraging
me,” he said.
Karunaratne had a long and strenuous workout at the nearby training
venue on Tuesday morning under the watchful eyes of his coach, who has
been guiding him in Warsaw, Poland when he was on the last leg of his
international series before arriving in London a week ago. They were
accompanied by Karunaratne's sponsor Rohan de Silva, who is also
functions as the badminton manager of the Sri Lanka team.
With the last 16 players in men's singles battle it out on Wednesday,
the pre-quarter finals of the Olympic badminton competition is going to
be even more exciting. World number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, who
survived a huge scare before booking his place in the last 16, will have
to come out with a vastly improved performance if he is to keep his gold
medal hopes alive.
The top seed was taken to three games by Finn Ville Lang of Finland
in a late-night thriller, but produced a strong finish to prevail 21-8
14-21 21-11. Lee had been troubled in the build-up to London 2012 by an
ankle injury and showed signs of rustiness as world number 45 Lang
fought back in the second game.
Although the Malaysian eventually came through by winning 10 of the
last 11 points, his performance will offer encouragement to his rivals,
particularly reigning champion Lin Dan. Lin, the Chinese superstar and
second seed, looked in superb form as he brushed aside Ireland's Scott
Evans earlier in the day.
Lee, who plans to retire after the Games, said: ‘I am only mentally
strong because I have had an injury and I am still not 100% fit. But I
had nothing to lose and I just tried my best,” he said.
Danish veteran Peter Gade, playing his fourth and last Olympics at
the age of 35, started his latest bid for gold with an easy win over
Portugal's Pedro Martins. Watched by Crown Prince Frederik, the Sydney
2000 semi-finalist and fifth seed won 21-15 21-8. Indian Parupalli
Kashyap, who scored a dominating straight games win over Vietnam's Tien
Nguyen, too will be seen in action in the pre-quarters of men's singles.
Ranked 21st in the world, Kashyap outplayed his rival, ranked 11 places
above him, 21-9 21-14 in the second and final Group D match. However,
all seeded players have made it to the last 16 of the women's singles
badminton competition which did not have any upset wins. Chinese pair
Wang Yihan and Wang Xin, seeds one and two respectively, both reached
the last 16 with comfortable wins.
Meanwhile, France edged out Australia 74-70 after overtime to move a
step closer to a quarter final place in the women's basketball
competition. However, there was disappointment for the hosts Great
Britain. France took control of the game in the third quarter, with a
Celine Dumerrc three-pointer sparking a 10-0 run that put them on top
Great Britain women's coach Tom Maher believes his team's lack of
experience cost them a first-ever Olympic win as they let slip a late
lead against Canada. Britain had been up 61-57 with six minutes left in
the game but then seemed to fall apart, allowing Canada to romp home on
a 16-4 charge to win 73-65. British women dug their own grave by turning
the ball over several times with careless passes.
China continued their impressive start in Group A as they cruised to
a 83-58 victory over Croatia, while Turkey beat the Czech Republic,
Russia beat Brazil and the USA ran up a 90-38 victory over Angola.