Gunatilleke excels to beat Karunaratne | Sunday Observer

Gunatilleke excels to beat Karunaratne

Buwaneka Gunatilleke receiving the men’s Open champions trophy from the Army Commander Lt General Mahesh Senanayake at the Defenders Open Badminton at the Army Indoor Stadium Panagoda.
Buwaneka Gunatilleke receiving the men’s Open champions trophy from the Army Commander Lt General Mahesh Senanayake at the Defenders Open Badminton at the Army Indoor Stadium Panagoda.

Buwaneka Gunatilleke the 22 year old promising shuttler emerged the men’s Singles champion at the inaugural Defenders Open Badminton tournament held at the Army Indoor Stadium Panagoda.

The victory was important for Gunatilleke before the forthcoming Sudirman Cup which will commence on May 19 in China.

It was the first time Gunatilleke got chance to beat National champion Dinuka Karunaratne at the ranking tournament. Both Karunaratne and Gunatilleke met each other several times at domestic tournaments where the former used his experience to win.

During the last National championships Karunaratne also defeated Gunatilleka with a hard fought three setter game in the semi finals.

But this time Gunatilleka made a full effort to overcome Karunaratne in three setter game to enter the final. The first set was won by Gunatilleka 21/19 but Karunaratne won the second set 21/16 to equal the contest. In the deciding set Gunatilleka did it in style to win 21/19 to enter the final. In the final Gunatilleka dominated the game winning 21/14, 21/13 over Hasitha Chanka.

“I was very happy to win the men’s Open title in this first ranking tournament for the year 2019. This gave me a big boost for my future tournaments,” said Gunatilleke after the final.

“I had a tough fight against Dinuka in the semi finals. I lost to him earlier but this time and I had more confidence to win in a tournament that was of a very high standard.”

Gunatilleke started his journey from Richmond College with Pavithra Abeygunasekara as his coach from the beginning and later Srimal Aponsu.

Presently in the National pool he is under the guidance of coach TonyWayuidi.

“I think we have a good chance to build up our skills under Indonesian coach Wayuidi and his guidance is always helpful,” said Gunatilleke.

Gunatilleka partnered Sachin Dias and won the men’s Doubles title at the Defenders tournament. The duo reached the semi finals at the Commonwealth Games and the quarter finals at the Asian Games.

Gunatilleke’s father passed away a few years ago and his mother Preethi Illepperuma is a former athlete who now works at the Sports Ministry. He is in safe hands.

“I never forget my school, my parents and my coaches. They gave me the strength and I will always take pride in playing for the country,” said Gunatilleka.

 

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