Sri Lanka Badminton reached another milestone, clinching the gold medal of Group 3 of the Sudirman Cup worked off in Gold Coast Australia by beating Macau-China.
The Sudirman Cup is the world mixed team badminton championship which takes place every two years. There are five matches in every round: men and women’s singles, men and women’s doubles and mixed doubles while the Cup is named after Dick Sudirman, a former Indonesian badminton player and the founder of the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI).
It is conducted in a team format with each country categorized in groups based on performance. Only the teams in the top group compete for the silverware while the other teams try their luck in getting promoted to the top groups. Each year the lowest performing team of the top group is relegated giving way to a new team.
Sri Lanka were initially placed in the Group 3-B qualifying group and faced Macau China in the encounter that decided the group winner.
National champion and Olympian Niluka Karunaratna provided the perfect start for Sri Lanka in their gold medal match when he beat Pang Fong Pui of Macau China 21-17,21-6. He was made to sweat for the first time in the tournament as he had to dig deep to win the first set by just four points before the champion shuttler came up with a brilliant performance in the second set to put Sri Lanka in the lead.
Thilini Hendahewa also continued her brilliant run of form to beat Weng Chi NG 21-9,21-7 in the Women’s Singles while Buwaneka Goonathileka partnered with Kavindi Sirimannage to beat U Leong IEK and Xue Xin Gong in the Mixed Doubles as Sri Lanka closed the gold medal tie in just three matches (3-0). Buwaneka and Kavindi hardly had any trouble right throughout the match as they came up with their A game when it mattered.
Earlier in the tournament, Sri Lanka came up with an impressive performance in the qualifying group, facing Slovakia, Fiji and Tahiti.
It was another dominant display from the shuttlers from the island nation as they beat Slovakia 5-0, in their final Group 3-Group B game. Niluka beat Matej Hlinican 21-13,21-15 in the Men’s Singles but Thilini Hendahewa had to play out of her skin in the Women’s Singles match to overcome Martina Repiska 21-16,21-19. Sri Lanka eased to victories in the other three matches of the tie against Slovakia to qualify for the gold medal match of Group 3 against Macau China.
Gold Medal winning Sri Lankan team
Niluka Karunaratne, Sachin Dias, Buweneka Goonathilake, Dinuka Karunaratne, Thilini Hendahewa, Chandrika Hettiarachchige, Lekha Shehani, Ishandika Sirimannage