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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Buwaneka and Ranithma emerge champions

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Buwaneka Gunatilleka and Ranithma Liyanage emerged men’s and women’s singles champions and 16-year-old Pulina Wellalage of St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa won a triple crown in the boys under 17 event in the National Badminton Championship concluded at Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium.

In the men’s final, Buwaneka Gunatilleka the defending champion had a straight two-sets win over 18-year-old Viren Nettasinghe of St. Peter’s, Bambalapitiya to clinch the title. The former Richmond college shuttler Buwaneka beat Viren 21/16 in the first set but Viren also put up a tough battle against Buwaneka in the second set.

At one stage Viren was leading the second set but Buwaneka used his experience and controlled the game to win it 21/18 and clinch the title. However, the way young Viren and Buwaneka played in the final was highly appreciated by Badminton experts. Buwaneka partnered by Sachin Dias the Sri Lankan number one men’s doubles pair won against Dumindu Abeywickrama and Ashinsa Herath the Royal College pair in the doubles final.

Also, Buwaneka with Kavindu Sirimanage won the mixed doubles final which saw Buwaneka winning a triple crown with three major titles in this National Championship which was conducted by Sri Lanka Badminton headed by Rohan de Silva.

Meanwhile 16-year-old Ranithma Liyanage of Christ Church College Baddegama defeated Madushhika Dilrukshi from Seylan Bank in two sets 21/8, 21/16 to win the open women’s singles title. Ranithma was one of the youngest women shuttlers to claim this achievement while former National champion Ranjani Seneviratne (Dr. Ranjani presently works at General Hospital Colombo) and Achini Ratnasiri were the 15-year-old other two National women’s champions and after Emale Fernando and Anoma Wickramanayake, the 16-year-old Ranithma was the third National champion produced by Christ Church College, Baddegama.

Ranithma Liyanage said that her confidence was very high before this tournament.

“I had good training in a few international tournaments which gave a big exposure to win this National championship.

I was the girls under 17 singles champion and my SLB President Rohan de Silva and our village urban council Vice Chairman Anura Batuwatte and my school supported me to go forward.

Defending champion Buwaneka Gunatilleka said it was my day yesterday and I was mentally prepared to win the championship. I played my normal game while my fitness stood me in good stead. I am very happy my opponent Viren Nettasinghe gave a good fight and promising players like Viren is an asset for our country. I haven’t a coach now while my school coach Pavithra Abeygunasekara and my uncle Sanka Illepetuma backed me. We wanted to get more international exposure to earn more world ranking points and that is the only target said Buwaneka.

Meanwhile, the promising shuttler Pulina Wellalage the triple crown winner said his school St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa coached by Iresh de Silva won the boys overall championship with 51 points and his experience from the Nationals was very important for the future.

St Anthony’s Katugastota (19) and Richmond Galle (15) won boys overall second and third places while Samgamitta BMV Galle coached by Subash Janaka won the girls overall championship with 22 points. Gateway International School Colombo and Sujatha BMV having 20 points each were overall second and third placed respectively.

Anuthmi Sooriyabandara of Vidura College Nugegoda and Yoshitha Silva were awarded best girls and boys up-and-coming player titles. Sports Ministry Director General Amal Edirisooriya was the Chief Guest.

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