Two Sri Lanka promising players Chanul Dulshan of Dharmasoka and Ayla Chitty of Ladies College have performed well at the recently concluded South Asian Junior Table Tennis Championship when both of the paddlers defeated stronger Indian players during the tournament which was held in Male, Maldives.
Sri Lanka won four silver medals and five bronze medals in this tournament while 14 players from under 15 and under 19 categories took part in this event. Only gold and silver medal-winning teams qualify for the Asian Championship to represent South Asia at the Asian Junior Table Tennis Championship. Sri Lanka’s junior boys’ and girls’ teams qualified for the Asian Junior Table Tennis Championship with their performances at the South Asian Junior Tournament.
Sri Lankan under 15 players Janith Batugedera of Royal and Lesanya Sethumadi of Dharmasoka Ambalangoda who is the sister of Chanul and under 19 player Bimandee Bandara of Hillwood College Kandy won bronze medals at the individual events while under 19 boys and girls team won the silver medals at the team event. At the team event, Sri Lanka under 15 boys and girls won bronze medals.
However, winning silver and bronze medals are not big news in this type of South Asian tournament as India is the only stronghold compared to the other South Asian countries. Sri Lankan juniors lost to Maldives, Bangladesh, and Nepal and they had to make a hard fight to win bronze medals. The most important thing was defeating Indian paddlers in this tournament.
Table Tennis Association of Sri Lanka |(TTASL) pointed out some points after concluding this South Asian Junior Tournament. The tournament was organized after three years of drought due to the world’s pandemic situation.
Even though there is a setback in the results compared to the previous 2018 results, the blame cannot be rested on the players. Sri Lankan paddlers didn’t have any foreign exposure and the tournament was not confirmed until the last day due to the ministry approvals and costs.
The TTASL further pointed out “This time the players had only 6 days non-residential training whereas last occurrences the Sri Lanka team had at least 3 weeks of rigorous residential training before the tournament. TTASL took almost three weeks to finalize the coaches for the tournament due to various reasons. Further Sri Lanka number one junior paddler withdrawn from the trials due to personal reasons”.
The team landed in Maldives just before the tournament begins and they didn’t have any time to adjust to the playing conditions of the Maldives environment. The tournament went on up to midnight every day which is not experienced in Sri Lanka. Apart from all drawbacks, Sri Lankan paddlers played well and were up to the standards of any other team stated TTASL after the Sri Lankan team returned home with four silvers and five bronze medals.