Sri Lankan shuttlers eye impressive show at Commonwealth Games

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Three-time Olympian Niluka Karunaratne, will lead the nation’s hopes in badminton competitions at the 22nd Commonwealth Games which will take place in Birmingham, United Kingdom, from 29 July to 8 August.

The multiple-time national singles champion and the country’s most experienced shuttler, Karunaratne has appeared at every Commonwealth Games since his debut as a teenager at Manchester in 2002 and this year’s edition of the 72-nation event will be his sixth.

The 37-year-old, ranked 131st in the world, will be joined by five other compatriots at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre courts as Sri Lanka looks to impress in badminton.

Sachin Dias, Buwaneka Goonathilleke, Thilini Hendahewa, Dumindu Abeywickrema and Suhasni Vidanage are the rest of the team, coached by the Indonesian former Asian singles champion Jeffer Rosobin. Kanchana Wimalasuriya is the team manager on tour.

Abeywickrema and Vidanage will be making their debut appearance in the Commonwealth Games.

Karunaratne and Abeywickrema will play the singles while Sri Lanka’s most experienced men’s doubles pair Goonathilleke and Dias – currently ranked 95th in the world – will also be looking for an impressive show in the UK. Meanwhile, Vidanage will play both singles and women’s doubles – partnered by Hendahewa who also competes in the mixed doubles events.

Sri Lanka are pitted in Group 1 along with the defending champions India, Australia and Pakistan.

Their first opponents will be Australia (29 July). Sri Lankan shuttlers will face India on 30 July .