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Women shuttlers ready for a repeat performance

BADMINTON: The Sri Lanka women's badminton team is confident of producing a repeat performance at the 10th South Asian Games which gets under way on August 16 at the Sugathadasa indoor stadium.

The Sri Lanka women's team had an excellent tournament in 2004 where they clinched the silver medal in the team championship in addition of winning a total of six bronze medals. This time the team is even more determined to perform well and all eight players are in a good frame of mind to deliver the goods.

Sri Lanka's prime target is certainly to make it to the final of the team championship ahead of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives. But considering the amount of international experience the Sri Lankan girls have had this year they could even produce a surprise against the defending champions India.

The Sri Lanka women's badminton team has abundant of talent and experience and are capable of lasting the full distance which could be a vital factor when it comes to a close encounter. The team will be spearheaded by Sri Lanka's number two ranked player Renu Chandrika de Silva who is easily the most experienced player in the squad.

Chandrika de Silva had a successful tournament in 2004 where she won a bronze medal each in the women's singles, women's doubles and mixed doubles.

But her best effort was at the 2005 Satellite championships in Nepal where she had the honour of winning a triple crown. She also reached the quarterfinals of the women's open event at the Asian badminton championships.

Chandrika was also the Sri Lankan representative at the Commonwealth Games in 2002 and 2006, Ubar Cup in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006, Sudharman trophy in 1997, 2002 and 2005 and has qualified to participate in the World Championships in Spain this year. She has the unique record of having won the national singles title from 1997 to 2003 and regained the title back again in 2005.

Sri Lanka will also be depending heavily on schoolgirl Thilini Jayasinghe of Mahamaya College Kandy who is currently the number one ranked player in the squad. She represented the Sri Lanka team at the 2004 SAF Games and participated at the Commonwealth Games this year.

She emerged runner up in the mixed doubles event at the Asian championships and entered the quarterfinals of the women's doubles event in the same tournament.

The runner up of the women's nationals Nadeesha Gayanthi is another key player who play a vital role in the team championship. She was the runner up at the South Asian Games in 2004 and represented the country twice in 2002 and 2004 at the Ubar Cup championships.

In addition she participated at the Asian junior championships from 1999 to 2002 and at the Asian senior championships in 2004.

Gayani Perera from Anula Vidyalaya is another promising shuttler having clinched the junior national title recently. She had the opportunity of participating at the Milo junior championships in Indonesia in 2004, Asian junior championships in Indonesia in 2005 and Malaysia in 2006 and at the Peace Sports Festival in Korea last year.

The events that will be worked off at the South Asian Games are three singles and two doubles in the team championship, two singles, two doubles and two mixed doubles in the individual championships.

The team events will be worked off on August 16, 17 and 18 and the individual events on August 19, 20 and 22.

The Sri Lanka women's badminton team: Renu chandrika de Silva, Nadeesha Gayanthi, Thilini Jayasinghe, Rasangika Ranatunga, Gayani Perera, Suboda Dahanayake, Lakshi de Silva and Sulochana Ariyadasa.

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