Shuttler Niluka Karunaratne became the first Sri Lankan to ensure a place in the upcoming London Olympics. With an eye on this target for many years, Niluka achieved his ambition after a grueling battle over the years.
Ranked in the eighties in the world ranking a few months back, Niluka underwent rigorous training which led him to win many international level tournaments visiting South Africa and America before moving on to Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
Niluka made a highly successful tour of Europe where he competed in four Tournaments which were held in Puerto Rico (South Africa), Miami (America), Scotland, Wales& Ireland. His brilliant performances saw him win the Puerto Rico International Challenge beating competitors from 25 countries. Once again he came out on top as Champion at the International Badminton Series held in Miami beating a similar number of competitors as in Puerto Rico. These victories moved him up from 88 to 77 in the world rankings. Although this was sufficient to qualify for a place in the London Olympics, Niluka was determined to do better and took another step forward and moved to Europe, visiting Sweden, to compete in another International Tournament which enabled him to go further up, to the 63rdposition.
Tired after the American Tour, Niluka moved to Wales where he had to face stiff competition, however he could not proceed beyond the Quarter Finals. Thereafter he moved on to participate in the Ireland International Series but this too was not a happy hunting ground as the climatic conditions were not conducive for him to continue.
In order to gear himself at a high standard for the London Olympics, Niluka made a tour of Iran a few days back where he participated in the Fajr International Badminton Tournament, having to face stiff competition from an Iranian in the Semi-Finals, and an Indian in the Finals, and clinched the Gold Medal, thereby moving to within the top fifty in the world ranking. This is undoubtedly a morale booster.
Niluka says that he has achieved his goal for the moment by booking a place in the 2012 London Olympics. He went on to say that his ultimate goal is to win an Olympic Medal thereby bringing honour and glory to his Motherland.
Before embarking on serious training which he hopes to commence next week under the guidance of an Indian Coach, Sankar Annamaly, who is expected to arrive in the island this week, Niluka will take a short break to relax and unwind in order to be in a good frame of mind.
A product of Dharmasoka College, Ambalangoda, Niluka started his career in Badminton at the tender age of nine years when he clinched the All Island Schools Badminton Championship, and continued to dominate in this field for many years as a school boy. He won the All Island School Badminton Championship in all age categories and achieved a rare feat when he won the National Badminton Championship at the age of 17 years as a Student of the School he represented, becoming the first school boy to do so.
Thereafter there was no stopping and he streaked ahead capturing the National Title for ten long years without a break.
Sri Lanka’s National Badminton Champion, Niluka Karunaratne paid a glowing tribute to the McLarens Group of Companies for appointing him as their Brand Ambassador which he said helped him immensely. He expressed his deep gratitude to all those responsible at McLarens for the support and encouragement extended over the years which he said helped to build his morale and career in Badminton.