Undergraduate Supuna eyes TT ‘crown’
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.
Track and field action from Diyagama
The Track and Field season commenced with some of the best athletes in the senior and Under 20 age categories producing notable performances during the two-day Junior and Senior Selection Trial concluded at Diyagama on Tuesday. Here are some action pictures from the day two of the event.
(Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi)
Dharshana’s false start dampen an otherwise remarkable day
by Reemus Fernando
Sprinter Aruna Dharshana gave athletics fans both joy and heartache on an otherwise remarkable day as the Junior and Senior Track and Field trials concluded with a number of athletes achieving their personal bests at Diyagama yesterday.
Athletics analysts were waiting for Dharshana to reach his personal best in the men’s 400 metres final after the Army athlete produced the best performance in the heats where as many as five athletes clocked sub 47 seconds. When Dharshana followed up his 200 metres winning time of 21.12 seconds with a feat of 46.43 seconds in the 400 metres many expected him to produce a sub 46 seconds performance in the final.
But the shocking foul start meant that he will have to wait for more than a month to test his true potential. Incidentally, Kalinga Kumarage, who was off-colour in the heats (47.51 secs – second in heat 3) won the final with a feat of 46.27 seconds. However, 100 metres sprinter Medhani Jayamanne who was disqualified for a foul start in the women’s 100 metres heats was not so unlucky, as athletics officials gave her an opportunity to compete in the women’s 100 metres final, though her place was (2nd) not recognised. She clocked 12.16 seconds in the final.
In Dharshana’s absence four others, namely, Kumarage, R.N. Rajakaruna, Dinuka Deshan and Pabasara Niku clocked sub 47 seconds.
In the corresponding women’s 400 metres, schoolgirl Tharushi Karunaratne continued to shock her senior counterparts. Having won the women’s 800 metres on day one, the Ratnayake Central prodigy also bagged the 400 metres victory as she clocked 53.41 seconds to beat Asian Championship participant Nadeesha Ramanayake.
In the men’s 100 metres Chamod Yodasinghe reached his personal best as he clocked 10.37 seconds to win the final.
In the women’s 100 metres final, Rumeshika Ratnayake clocked 12.01 seconds to win running against the wind (-2.9). In the heats, she clocked sub 12 seconds.
In the morning, Gayanthika Abeyratne finished the women’s 1500 metres just three seconds shy of her national record mark as she clocked 4:12.53 seconds to win closely followed by steeplechase national record holder Nilani Ratnayake. Abeyratne’s national record established last year stands at 4:09.12 seconds.
In the Under 20 age category events Malith Yasiru produced the second-best performance of the Asian region in the Under 20 boys’ triple jump this year when he cleared a distance of 15.43 metres to win the event.
Sri Lankan sailing teams compete in Pakistan
The Sri Lankan national team of two sailors and one windsurfer, with the Navy team of a sailor and a windsurfer, were invited to participate at the first Chief of Navy Staff International Sailing Regatta 2023 held from March 14 to 20 in Karachi, Pakistan. Twelve countries including Australia, Bahrain, Croatia, Egypt, China, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Oman, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey had sent their teams to Karachi. The Sri Lankan national team consisted of Laser Standard sailor (ILCA 7) NGMU Ghanawardene, Sri Lanka Navy, Priyantha Gunawardene, Sri Lanka Navy participating in the Windsurfing RSX Class and Laser 4.7 (ILCA 4) sailor Tharen Nanayakkara. The Navy team consisted of Laser Standard sailor (ILCA 7) JMPL Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka Navy and WAS Weeratunge, Sri Lanka Navy participating in the Windsurfing RSX Class.
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