Unwanted in Sri Lanka but honoured by the world | Sunday Observer

Unwanted in Sri Lanka but honoured by the world

Ranjith de Silva
Ranjith de Silva

Professor Ranjit de Silva has become the first in South Asia to receive the highly prestigious and rare Lifetime Achievement Award from the Badminton World Federation (BWF) given for exceptional contributions and achievements in international badminton.

He was one of the badminton officials who was blocked from holding office.

During its 85 years BWF has bestowed this award 13 times and in a game dominated by Asia, Sri Lanka becomes only the fourth Asian country to be a recipient after China, Chinese Taipei and Indonesia. The last recipient was the legendary Erland Kops of Denmark in 2016 who was invincible for a decade as a player during the 1960s.

Professor de Silva, a former badminton national Singles champion, Sri Lanka captain and World Masters Games gold medallist, served in the BWF Council for 10 years elected by the 180 member countries.

Altogether his involvement with the BWF spanned 50 years from 1967 to 2017. He was active in the committees on Constitution and Ethics, International Affairs and the Olympics, development, administration, communications and para-badminton.

During his period in Zambia where he was President of the Zambia Badminton and Vice-President of the Africa Badminton Federation, Prof de Silva organized the first ever All-Africa Junior Championships in 1993 in Zambia which brought all the African countries together including a post-apartheid South Africa.

He also produced an All-Africa senior badminton men’s Singles champion (Simon Gondwe 1984) from among the large groups of schoolchildren he coached in Zambia.

During a two-year spell as President of Sri Lanka Badminton, Professor de Silva did the impossible and directed the coaching of juniors to lead them to a gold medal, silver medal and two bronze medals in the Asian Junior Championships 2009 in which the world’s best played, including the world champion.

Before and after that period Sri Lanka struggled to go past the second round in a continental Asian championship. He will receive this award in May when the BWF holds a function in Nanjing, China.