Asian badminton stars have eyes on Rio Olympics

One common thing synonymous with Asian countries like India and Sri Lanka is cricket. They are world beaters in that.

When you enlarge the clique to other countries like Malaysia, China and Singapore, indoor games and gymnastics take the lead, badminton being a key subject.

At the just concluded Uganda International Badminton Open, the visiting India and Sri Lanka players were a class apart from the rest and all they share in common is making it to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero.

The road to Brazil is one few Ugandan players would think of. But for Dinuka Karunarante, being at the XXXI Olympiad is more than a mission.

“Everything I am doing now is to get me to Brazil,” Sri Lanka’s number two Karunarante told Kawowo Sports after winning the men’s singles title.

He had beaten South African Jacob Maliekal 2-0 (21-12, 21-15) in the final at Lugogo Indoor Stadium on Sunday.

“Prior to this tournament, I was ranked 120th. The best ranked player (his brother) in our country is 34th in the world. So I really need to work hard in the remaining two years since we only have one slot for Rio.”

His country mate Lekha Handunkuttihettige lost to India’s number one Trupti Murgunde 2-0 (22-20, 21-14) in the women singles’ final.

“I lost the final here but managed to score vital points which can keep me in the race for the Olympics,” Sri Lanka’s women first seed Lekha said. And Trupti is no different.

“Back home in Bangalore, I train a lot and face much pressure keeping up the ranks,” 28-year-old Trupti said. “I am returning home for a Super Series tournament then focus on other events elsewhere so that I secure an Olympics ticket.”

The two ladies had first met in Bahrain and Trupti won the contest with a huge margin unlike on Sunday.

UGANDA INTERNATIONAL BADMINTON OPEN FINAL RESULTS

Men’s Singles – Dinuka Karunarante (Sri Lanka) beat Jacob Maliekal (South Africa) 2-0
Women’s Singles – Trupti Murgunde (India) beat Lekha Handunkuttihettige (Sri Lanka) 2-0
Mixed Doubles – Chong Chun Quan & Yeoh Zoe (Malaysia) beat Andries Malan & Willem Viljoen (South Africa) 2-1 Women Doubles – Tosin Damilola & Azeez Fatima (Nigeria) beat Dorcus Ajoke & Augustina Ebhomien (Nigeria) 2-1 Mixed Doubles – Fagbemi Ola & Dorcus Ajoke (Nigeria) beat Abah Enejoh & Tosin Damilola (Nigeria) 2-1

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