Indian nose dangles over Sri Lankan shuttlers | Sunday Observer

Indian nose dangles over Sri Lankan shuttlers

Tony Wahyud
Tony Wahyud

India is expected to pose the biggest threat to Sri Lanka’s badminton players at the forthcoming South Aisan Games in Nepal scheduled to begin on December 1 according to the team’s Indonesian coach Tony Wahyud who is also worried over player injuries.

“The Indians are the top team in the South Asian region and we have to give them a good fight which means it is a huge challenge for the Sri Lankans. We also have to cope up with some injuries and this can also contribute to the challenge,” said Wahyud.

The experienced Niluka Karunaratne and Doubles specialist Buwaneka Gunatilleka are two players down with injury with the former unlikely to make the trip. Dinuka Karunaratne, Thilini Hendahewa, Kavidi Sirimannage, Achini Ratnasiri and Sachin Dias carry much of the hopes in the Sri Lankan camp.

Gunatilleka, according to Wahyud, may have to undergo a fitness test if he is to be included in the squad at the last minute.

Dinuka Karunaratne carries additional responsibility in the absence of his elder brother Niluka and the injuries have been attributed to a high number of domestic tournaments.

“Our players normally play too much of tournaments and now we have a few of them carrying injuries and need to recover,” said Wahyud.

Palitha Hettiarachchi who heads a committee monitoring training and fitness levels of the players and former national champion Duminda Jayakody along with the the president of the Badminton Association Rohan de Silva have provided all the facilities to prepare the players with fitness levels being the only worry ahead of the South Asian Games. Some players are said to go into tournaments half fit and aggravate their injuries which has become the main issue leading to a drop in their standards.

At national pool practices the players indulge in gym fitness training under the observation of Sports Ministry official Asoka Jayasundera and are also put through swimming sessions.

According to Wahyud the mixed doubles pair of Sachin Dias and Thilni Hendahewa have got a good chance of bagging a medal.

“Our best men’s doubles pair of Sachin and Buwaneka both showed good progress at the last Asian Games but Buwaneka will have to recover well to get back to his usual form,” said Wahyud.

The women’s pairs of Thilini Hendahewa and Kavidi Sirimannage along with Achini Ratnasiri and Upuli Weerasinghe will also come under scrutiny at the Games.