Eight member Sri Lankan shuttle team for Commonwealth Games | Daily News

Eight member Sri Lankan shuttle team for Commonwealth Games

Niluka Karunaratne-Buwaneka Gunatilleka-Sachin Dias-Dumindu Abeywickrama-Thilini Hendahewa
Niluka Karunaratne-Buwaneka Gunatilleka-Sachin Dias-Dumindu Abeywickrama-Thilini Hendahewa

An Eight member Sri Lankan Badminton team will take part in the Commonwealth Games which is scheduled to be held from July 28 to August 8 in Birmingham, England.

According to the Vice President of Sri Lanka Badminton Palitha Hettiarachchi who is also the Chairman of the National Pool Training Committee four men’s shuttlers and four women’s shuttlers have been selected for the Birmingham Games based on their performances at the selection trials and all of them are undergoing training with Indonesian Jeffer Rosobin who is the present National coach.

The Vice President of SLB Palitha Heetiarachchi further said we have a blend of youth and experienced mixed team for this Commonwealth Games and this is going to be good exposure for them before the Asian Games which is scheduled to be held from September 10 to 26 in Hangzhou, China.

Sri Lanka's most experienced men’s shuttler Niluka Karunaratne who competed in five consecutive Commonwealth Games from 2002 to 2018 and three consecutive Olympics in 2012, 2016, and 2020 once again is the key attraction of the Sri Lanka men’s team.

He is expected to play men’s singles while Sri Lankan men’s doubles number one pair Buwaneka Gunatilleka who is also the present National champion and Sachin Dias are also among the men’s team.

Buwaneka and Sachin the top seed men’s doubles pair excelled at the last Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast in 2018 and they reached the semi finals for the first time which was the highest achievement by a Sri Lankan doubles pair at the Commonwealth Games. This pair also reached the quarter final stage at the last Asian Games in Indonesia in 2018 and recently both of them won several International tournaments.

Dumindu Abeywickrema the 19 year old Royalist is the youngest men’s team member of this team and this is his debut Commonwealth Games. Abeywickrema the present under 19 number one player played South Asian under 21 tournament in Maldives in 2019 won a silver at the team event and a bronze at the individual event He took part in the world junior championships in Canada. and also toured Bangladesh for their junior tournament earlier. The promising shuttler Dumindu is expected to play men’s singles event and this is going to be a good exposure for him.

Meanwhile former National champion Thilini Hendahewa is the most experienced player on the women’s team. She is more focused about her doubles event and will play mixed doubles with Sachin Dias and they are the number one mixed doubles pair having more International experience.

Thilini Hendahewa the former Vishakian who has obtained a Sports Management Degree won several medals at the International level and her women’s double partner Kavidi Sirimannage is out of the team this time due to injury.

Both Thilni and Sirimannge performed well at the last Commonwealth Games while this time Thilini is expected to play with new doubles partner for this games but her partner is not yet finalised.

Two newcomers Suhasni Vidanage the 19 year old Dharmasoka Ambalangoda shuttler, Buthmi Galagamage and experienced Nadeesha Gayanthi are the other three players of the girls' team.

The youngest of the women’s team Suhasni is expected to play singles event while women’s doubles partners have not been finalized said Vice President Palitha Hettiarachchi.

The National Pool Training committee chairman and VP of SLB Palitha Hettiarachchi said four men’s players and three women’s have a chance to take part in the Birmingham Games and the Sports Ministry has not given the green light to all eight players for the games due to financial issues. They informed us to select the best players especially focused on medals at this stage and we are waiting for the final decision said SLB Vice President. The team for the Asian Games is also not approved by the National Olympic Committee (NOC) and by SLB has already forwarded the Asian Games team to NOC.

In addition, Niluka Karunaratne, Buwaneka Gunatilleka, Sachin Dias, and Thilini Hendahewa who missed their chance to play Philippine tour for Asian Badminton Championship last April due to visa refusal once again expected to play on the European circuit Badminton championships in Austria and Italy before the Commonwealth Games and these tournaments are very vital for them to improve their world ranking.

The young Dumindu Abeywickrama is also expected to play World Badminton ranking tournament to get more exposure and Sri Lanka Badminton headed by Rohan de Silva is expected to arrange all these tours for the benefit of the local shuttlers.

Sri Lankan Badminton team for Commonwealth Games

Men's: Niluka Karunaratne, Buwaneka Gunetilleka, Sachin Dias, Dumindu Abeywickrama

Women’s Thilini Hendahewa, Suhasni Vidanage, Buthmi Galagamage, Nadeesha Gayanthi.

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