Table Tennis prodigy Senura Dilanka follows in his parents’ footsteps | Sunday Observer

Table Tennis prodigy Senura Dilanka follows in his parents’ footsteps

20 December, 2020

enura Dilanka is the son of a champion table tennis couple. His parents Deepika Rodrigo and Indika Prasad are both former national table tennis champions.

Fourteen-year-old Senura, is a national table tennis player, ranked number three in Sri Lanka. He is the top ranked player in the under-15 and under-18 age categories.

The Youth Observer caught up with him to find out about his table tennis career.

Q: Dilanka, what do you do these days?

A: Due to Covid-19 I am at home these days. I have limited my travel and now spend time with my family members.

Q: Can you say something about yourself?

A: I was born in 2005. My father and mother did not give up the game after I was born. In 2006, they represented the country at the South Asian Games. In 2007, when I was two my mother gave up playing table tennis. My father too temporarily stopped playing table tennis from 2008 to 2010. But in 2014, after a lapse of six years he entered the national team again. That encouraged me to take up table tennis.

Q: How do you engage in table tennis practises these days?

A: Most of my time I am involved with my personal practices. As table tennis is an indoor game I have the opportunity to practise at home. If you are a table tennis player and have facilities to train at home, then Covid-19 is not a barrier for practises. I always practise at home.

Q: As your parents are former national champions you have enough facilities to practise in your home. Could you tell us something about them?

A: Yes. They are former top national players. My mother has won several national championships and my father too has won several table tennis titles. Everyone knows who they are. I am fortunate to have been born to them. I am the only son in the family and I have inherited my parents’ table tennis talent.

Q: Your father and mother run a table tennis academy. We have heard that you too underwent training in that academy in your early days. Is this true?

A: Yes. My father and mother started a table tennis academy in 2004. They took me with them when I was a baby and I was attracted to it. This was my path to table tennis.

Q: Table tennis is not a rich man’s sport. How did your parents react when you took up the game?

A: They never make barriers. I was given the opportunity to choose whatever sport I wished. However, I loved to be involved with table tennis very closely. That is why I chose this game.

Q: You began your primary studies at Isipathana College in Colombo. How did you join a Colombo school?

A: At that time my father was the table tennis coach at Isipathana. This enabled me to enter that school. My mother was working at Lake House at that time.

Q: Then in grade four, you entered Ananda College. How did you do that?

A: As a grade four student I won the under-eight age group in several table tennis tournaments. It helped me to enter Ananda College in 2014. I continue to study in that school.

Q: You have represented the national junior team at several international tournaments. Could you briefly describe those tournaments?

A: In the beginning I participated in three world championships and won a bronze medal in one of the tournaments in India in 2017. In 2018, we won a silver medal in the under-15 age group team event at the South Asian Junior Table Tennis championship. I won a gold medal at the South Asian Junior tournament in the under-15 category last year.

Q: To how many countries have you travelled?

A: I have travelled to around six countries. Thailand, India, the Maldives, Oman, Indonesia and Nepal are the countries which I have visited.

Q: You are the table tennis champion in the under-15 category in Sri Lanka?

A: Yes. I am the champion in the under-15 age group and also the champ in the under-18 age group.

Q: You have played in the open national table tennis championship. What was the rank you received?

A: I won third place in the open national table tennis championship.

Q: What are your main victories in table tennis?

A: I won four gold medals at the junior nationals last year. I have also won the under-15, under-18 singles and under-18 doubles and mixed doubles tournaments.

Q: Have you represented the country as a member of the national table tennis team in international tournaments?

A: Of course. I represented the senior national table tennis team as a 14-year old. It was the happiest event in my life. I hope to maintain and develop my skills day by day.

Q: You set a record as the youngest athlete at the South Asian Games in Nepal. What do you think about that achievement?

A: I am very happy about it. I was 14 when I participated in the South Asian Games. I am also the first player from Ananda to participate in the South Asian Games. It is an event that I will never forget.