Karunaratne gears up for tough challenge….


RIO DE JANEIRO, Wednesday: The badminton competition of the XXX1st Olympic Games will get under way here on Thursday with Sri Lanka’s undisputed national champion Niluka Karunaratne making his second successive appearance in the Olympics.

Karunaratne, who competed at the last 2012 Olympic Games, has been drawn in group ‘P’ in the men’s singles first round. Besides Karunaratne, the other shuttlers drawn in Group ‘P’ are Long Chen of China, Kevin Cordon of Guatemala and Adrian Dziolko of Poland.

Fourteen-time Sri Lanka national champion Karunaratne will play his first group match against China’s Long Chen at Riocentro Pavilion Four on Thursday at10.10 am local time (6.40 pm SL time). It will be the toughest of the three group matches for Karnaratne as he comes across the men’s singles bronze medallist of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The Lankan lad’s second match in Group ‘P’ will be against Guatemalan Cordon on Friday at 7.30 pm local time (4 am SL time on Saturday).

Karunaratne’s last of the three Group matches will be against Polish Dziolko, scheduled for Sunday at 3.55 pm local time (12.25 am SL time on Monday). Dziolko, ranked 58th in the world, has been a member of the Polish senior badminton team since 2009.

“It is a tough contest but I will try my best to spring a surprise or two,” a determined Karunarane said on the eve of his first game. “I am glad to make it to my second successive Olympics and have been training hard. Irrespective of the ranking of my opponents, I will battle it out until the last minute. I am ready to face the challenge,” Karunaratne said.

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