The Warusawithana ‘table tennis family’: From left Supuna, Erandhi and Hiruna
by A Special Sports Correspondent
Table tennis player Supuna Warusawithana stole the show at the recently concluded Kegalla District Open Ranking Tournament when he won the men’s singles open and the achievement helped him set his sight to pursue more glory in the sport this year.
What’s special about Supuna is that he comes from a family that has so much involvement in table tennis. His sister Erandhi and younger brother Hiruna are also competitive table tennis players and have won honours in the sport at national level. There was a time when all three were in the national table tennis pool.
However all eyes are on Supuna who is playing well and has his eyes set on reaching the number one ranking in the men’s singles; a feat he achieved before the curtains fell on the sport as a result of the first wave of the Covid 19 pandemic. He is at present ranked fourth in the men’s singles.
Getting there will be hard and Supuna knows that. There is the challenge posed by players like Senura Silva, Krishan Wickremeratne and Chameera Ginige. That’s what makes the table tennis men’s singles event so exciting and doesn’t allow room for complacency in the playing careers of any of these four players.
Supuna is a ‘brain’ and is studying for a Information Technology degree at the University of Moratuwa. He is one player who balanced his studies and sports and reached some stability in life. “I love to continue playing table tennis, but I have realised that only education would secure my future. So my main goal in life is to complete my degree and find suitable employment,” said the 23-year-old player who had his school education at Dharmasoka Ambalangoda and Ananda College Colombo. For the record he obtained nine As at the O’ Level Examination and an A and two Bs at the A’ Level Examination studying mathematics.
As a result of playing table tennis at national level he said he received the expected recognition at the university. “My table tennis back ground gave me that advantage at the university,” said Supuna.
Like all other players Supuna too was affected by the Corona pandemic because it affected his studies and playing table tennis. But like all other players he too was so glad to return to competition when the Table Tennis Association of Sri Lanka conducted three tournaments this year. He also contested the Kegalle District Maheepala Herath Challenge Tournament and the Open Ranking Tournament held at Mount Lavinia and reached the quarter finals and semi finals respectively in the men’s open singles.
At the international scene he dazzled at the 2013 Junior South Asian Championships (Silver in the team event), 2014 South Asian Championships (Bronze in the team event) and 2016 South Asian Championships (Gold in the team event). “Sri Lanka can win a medal at the Commonwealth Games. I have hopes there too,” said Supuna.
Among the blessings he has to follow the sport he counts the supports he receives from his parents Sumudu (dad) and Nipunika (mom). “They’ve never set goals for me, but have given me all the support which is what I need,” he reflected.
It sometimes isn’t easy to play without outside pressure when so many members of one’s family and close relations have had links in table tennis. Apart from his siblings his dad Sumudu (School level), Grandfather Chandradeera (School level) and his uncle Kumudu (national level) were also involved in the racket sport.
But now the focus is on these three children from the same family who have done Ambalangoda proud. There have been occasions when Supuna has partnered his elder sister Erandhi in the mixed doubles. But he shares much more in the sport with his younger brother Hiruna (who schools at Ananda College) who is his partner in the men’s doubles event. “When I play with my brother the left hand right hand combination we produce comes in handy. We both play an attacking game and we share the same ideas in the sport. My sister is a defensive players and that’s her style of playing. There are times when we three practice together and prepare for tournaments. We have a table tennis table at home,” said Supuna.
It is with much love and appreciation that he remembered his coaches N.H Perera (who coached him at Ananda College), Upul Samantha and Chathura Dushan (who coached him at Dharmasoka Ambalangoda) and Nishan Perera who is his present private coach.
He said that he never stopped playing table tennis even close to examinations. But he said that when he does feel stressed out from all his activities he goes on a hike to the mountains with his friends.
One little area where he would like to improve is ‘training in the gym’ because Sri Lanka table tennis players don’t have a huge gym culture like with most of the players in the rest of the world. “I know it’s important to spend the hours in the gym, but the best of Sri Lanka’s players keep winning without the gym workouts,” he said. He said that he also doesn’t follow a special diet despite being a national player.
Supuna would soon complete his degree and if all goes well he might reach the number one ranking this year and also become the national singles champion. The journey ahead for him in sport is hard, but achieving his dreams wouldn’t be that challenging with his brother and sister cheering him on and offering him all the assistance.
Murali hospitalised for cardiac treatment
Muralitharan was at the Chepauk when Sunrisers played Mumbai Indians on Saturday, incidentally his 49 birthday. © BCCI/IPL
Sri Lankan cricket legend Muttiah Muralitharan, who is part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad support staff in the ongoing IPL, has undergone an angioplasty in Madras.
It was reported that the champion off-spinner “had a stent fitted to unblock an artery, and will rejoin Sunrisers Hyderabad when discharged.
He has been the bowling coach and mentor of Sunrisers Hyderabad since 2015. His team has suffered three losses in a row this season.
Dilhara Lokuhettige gets eight-year ban for corruption
Dilhara Lokuhettige had been slapped with corruption charges in April 2019
“The severity of the sanction reflects the seriousness of his offences and his continued refusal to cooperate”
Dilhara Lokuhettige, the former Sri Lanka allrounder, has been banned from all cricket for eight years by the ICC anti-corruption tribunal after being found guilty of breaching the ICC’s anti-corruption code on three counts.
Lokuhettige had been slapped with corruption charges in April 2019, five months after the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) had also charged him. The charges relate to the 2017 T10 tournament played in the UAE, which is why the ECB had been first to lay charges.
In January this year, the tribunal found Lokuhettige guilty of:
Article 2.1.1 – for being party to an agreement or effort to fix or contrive or otherwise influence improperly the result, progress, conduct or other aspect(s) of a match.
Article 2.1.4 – directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging or intentionally facilitating any participant to breach code article 2.1.
Article 2.4.4 – failing to disclose to the ACU full details of any approaches or invitations received to engage in corrupt conduct under the code.
“Having represented Sri Lanka in international cricket, Dilhara had attended a number of anti-corruption education sessions and would have known his actions were a breach of the Code,” Alex Marshall, the ICC general manager – anti corruption, said. “The severity of the sanction reflects the seriousness of his offences and his continued refusal to cooperate and should serve as a deterrent for anyone considering getting involved in corruption of any kind.”
An Al Jazeera documentary on cricket corruption in Sri Lanka had initially raised concerns about Lokuhettige. In that, Lokuhettige was seen to be in the room when another former Sri Lanka cricketer was talking to an alleged corruptor, as well as an Al Jazeera journalist posing as a prospective bettor.
Former Sri Lanka seamer Nuwan Zoysa was also found guilty of three corruption-related offences to do with that T10 tournament in November last year. Zoysa has since denied any wrongdoing.
Zoysa and Lokuhettige are the third and fourth former Sri Lanka players to be charged with corruption. Sanath Jayasuriya was the most high-profile cricketer to cop charges, and has served out a two-year suspension from the game, while former offspinner and sometime Galle curator Jayananda Warnaweera was the first to be charged with corruption by the ICC.
As Lokuhettige has been living in Australia and held no positions with Sri Lankan cricket, he has not faced a sanctions from the SLC so far.
He played 11 white-ball internationals for Sri Lanka, picking up eight wickets to go with 101 runs with the bat. His last competitive game was a first-class fixture for Moors Sports Club in February 2016.
Royal, Trinity march into semis as Ahan continues top form
Royal College marched into the semi-finals of the Under-19 Division I Tier ‘A’ tournament with a convincing six wickets victory over Nalanda as they stopped the team inclusive of at least two leading players of the tournament at the quarter-final hurdle on Monday.
Chasing 190 runs to win, the tournament’s leading batsman Ahan Wickramasinghe scored an unbeaten 71 runs for Royal to seal the semi-final place with 11 overs to spare. Dasis Manchanayake who took three Nalanda wickets also chipped in with 22 runs.
Wickramasinghe has scored over 400 runs now in six matches. Raveen de Silva who scored an unbeaten half century and Vinuja Ranpul who chipped in with 22 runs for Nalanda are the tournament’s second and third highest run scorers. .
In the other Tier ‘A’ quarter-final played on Monday, Trinity beat St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa by seven wickets to book their semi-final place.
While Royal meet the winners of the match between St. Anthony’s, Katugastota and Mahanama, Colombo in the semi-final, Trinity will encounter the winners of the quarter-final between Richmond and St. Joseph’s.
In the Division II Tier ‘A’ tournament, Lyceum International School, Wattala continued their impressive run as they edged out Rahula College, Matara in the quarter-final.
Division I Tier A
Royal beat Nalanda at Mount Lavinia
189 for 7 in 50 overs (Rashan Dissanayake 30, Nadil Jayakody 32, Vinuja Ranpul 22, Raveen de Silva 59n.o.; Dasis Manchanayake 3/17)
191 for 4 in 39 overs (Sineh Jayawardena 60, Isiwara Dissanayake 21, Ahan Wickramasinghe 71n.o., Dasis Manchanayake 22; Dineth Samaraweera 2/32)
Trinity beat St. Sebastian’s at Reid Avenue
131 all out in 43.2 overs (Yashan Avishka 51, Savindu Rodrigo 30; Dinuka Thennakoon 4/23, Abishek Anandakumar 3/37)
133 for 3 in 30.1 overs (Thevin Amarasinghe 39, Umair Raizan 60, Pawan Pathiraja 21n.o.; Sadeesh Fernando 3/39)
Division II Tier ‘A’
Lyceum beat Rahula at Darley Road
148 all out in 42.1 overs (Gamitha Pawan 61, Jaron Fernando 20, Theekshana Shehan 26; Binura Sanketh 2/17, Sandew Rithmaka 3/27)
117 all out in 42.2 overs (Tharindu Rajapaksha 52, Binura Sanketh 24; Mohammed Rifnaz 2/23, Mithush Lakshman 3/14)
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