The Sunday Leader

Rajakaruna, Dissanayake For Paralympics

  • 2012 Paralympics – Wheelchair Tennis

Rajakaruna and Gamini in action

In the wake of its bronze medal performance at last month’s World Team Championship in Seoul, South Korea, Sri Lanka’s Wheelchair Tennis has notched another major achievement: representation at the 2012 Paralympics in London.The ITF this week informed the SLTA that Upali Rajakaruna and Gamini Dissanayake, the architects of the country’s World Team Championship success, have been awarded wild cards for the Paralympics, which follows the 2012 London Summer Games.“The SLTA is delighted the country will be represented at the Paralympics.
It’s a wonderful achievement and reflects the excellent work done by P S Kumara’s Wheelchair Tennis committee,” said Iqbal Bin Issack, SLTA President. “It’s been a good year for tennis so far: we successfully defended our place in Group 2 of the Davis Cup and then our wheelchair players secured third place in the World Team Championship – and now wild cards for the Paralympics. It is encouraging that the sport is on an upward trajectory.” The Paralympics will be held from August 29 to Sept. 9. “The Games is nearly three months away and obviously from now on the players will be in intensive training under national coach Jagath Welikela and trainer Ranil Harshana,” said Lt. Col. Shiran Abeysekera, Secretary of the Wheelchair Committee.  “Rajakaruna and Dissanayake will be competing in both the singles and doubles events, and though intensive training is crucial, competition too is vital. Fortunately, the Malaysian and Thai Open tournaments are before the Olympics and the duo will use them to get the much-needed international match experience prior to the Paralympics.”Sri Lanka’s participation in London will be the third in Paralympics, having competed in 2004 in Athens and 2008 in Beijing. “In Athens both our players were eliminated in the first round, but in Beijing, Rajakaruna won his first round match but was unfortunate to come up against the eventual gold medalist in the second round and lost,” said coach Jagath Welikela.
Along with the news of our participation in the Paralympics, the latest ITF Wheelchair rankings also brought glad tidings. The latest listings showed dramatic improvement in the standings of Rajakaruna, from 69 to 56, and Dissanayake, from 76 to 70. “The present ranking of both players is the best they’ve achieved in their respective careers,” said Lt. Col. Abeysekera.

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