Mirror Magazine

Three Musketeers in badminton
By Bilal Yusuf
There have been the Chappell and Waugh brothers in cricket, the Williams sisters in tennis and now we have the Karunaratne brothers in badminton. The only difference being that it’s not two brothers but three. In the past we have heard two brothers making it to a national squad or a team, but it’s certainly a rare occasion that you hear of three brothers in the same team.

Niluka, Diluka and Dinuka are three outstanding badminton players who carry the hopes of Sri Lanka’s badminton future. The three brothers have been selected for next year’s SAF Games, with the most promising fact being that all three brothers are below the age of twenty. Niluka aged 19 is currently ranked as Sri Lanka’s number one player, Dinuka (18) is ranked number two in Sri Lanka and Diluka (17) the youngest of the three brothers is ranked 4th in the island.

Dinuka and Diluka are still schooling at Royal College, Diluka will be sitting for his Advanced Level examination next year while Dinuka completed his Ordinary Level examination last year. Niluka who also studied at Royal College left school after his Ordinary Level exams to concentrate totally on badminton. Their father Loui Karunaratne, a former national badminton player, has been their coach from their early days.

Niluka is currently ranked number 71 in the world and has dominated the sport in the country for the past three years. Recently he won the badminton nationals for the fourth consecutive year running. Niluka has participated in several tournaments abroad and has emerged runners up in the Wales open and Australian Open in 2004. In 2000 he won the gold medal in the junior SAF Games.

He has also won the junior national school championship in all age groups from under 11 to under 19 levels and received the prestigious “crown” award in 2001 that is awarded to the most outstanding sportsmen in Royal College. In 2000 he also won the “most outstanding sportsman” award at Royal College.

Diluka, like his older brother has also emerged victorious in all age group categories in the junior national badminton championship. In the SAF games trials Dinuka stunned his older brother Niluka winning the match in straight sets when the two brothers met in the semi finals. However Niluka got his sweet revenge when he beat Dinuka in the national’s semi finals.

Diluka has also won several tournaments, which include NSBA open, Gampaha Open, SAF games doubles tournament and the Belgian Open. Diluka’s most memorable day in badminton was when he won the NSBA singles championship title.

Dinuka, the youngest of the three brothers has emerged victorious in several tournaments as well. On a small stint in England, he won several tournaments for Northwood Club winning the under 13 singles and doubles titles, in 2004 he was adjudged the best player of the club.

Dinuka has been awarded colours for badminton for three years at Royal College. Dinuka’s most memorable day in badminton is when he won the first junior triple crown in 2004, when he won the singles, doubles and mixed doubles title.

Niluka left school at the age of 17 to train harder so that he could improve his game. He said that with him training morning and evening, six days a week, made it impossible for him to pursue his academic career.

Since his ambition is to become one of the top ten players in the world he has to train harder, and thus, he decided to leave school early and focus totally on badminton. He also said that his two younger brothers are still deciding whether to pursue their career in badminton or go abroad for studies.

He said that he feels the Sri Lanka badminton scene is lacking in certain areas such as nutritional requirements and fitness levels. He said that fitness standard is not up to the mark. Niluka said, “When I went overseas for training on one occasion I had to run 1600 meters eight times, that’s the sort of training and hard work that top badminton players put in to achieve excellence.”

He also said if anyone is determined on achieving success in sports, every athlete would have to go through some pain before he can achieve success. So the story of the Karunaratne brothers is a unique one, where probably for the first time in the history of sports in Sri Lanka, three brothers will be representing their country at the same time.


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