Lankan badminton star Sriyani wins gold at Las Vegas tourney
Former Sri Lanka badminton champion Sriyani Deepika hopes to inspire UAE-based players to aim for glory after winning a gold medal in the Women’s Singles Seniors 50+ division at the Las Vegas World Chinese Invitational Badminton Tournament held from July 20-22.
Organized by the World Chinese Badminton Federation – United States Branch under the aegis of USA Badminton, Sriyani displayed great skill and stamina to defeat veteran Chinese players in the singles in addition to bagging a bronze medal in the 50+ Mixed Doubles event partnering a Sri Lankan Anura Krishantha.
“It was a dream come true and a result of my hard work and dedication to the sport which I have been playing since the age of 12,” said an elated Sriyani shrugging off jet lag on her return to the UAE on Thursday morning. Sriyani showed great reserves of stamina for a 51-year-old mother of two teenaged children, battling tenaciously for more than three hours on court on the first day of the competition which attracted shuttlers from 19 countries. She won all her three round robin matches to emerge champion defeating Lili Cai 31-17, Liz hen Xu 31-13 and Rungrong Zeng 31-30 in the 50+ Women’s Singles event. Partnering Krishantha, she overcame the pairing of John Wu and Xia Min Tang 31-28, Yong Li and Huang 31-17 and Andre Kristian and Jen Huang 31-30 in the 50+ Mixed Doubles preliminary round. But she had to be content with a bronze medal in the Mixed Doubles after having lost to the
Chinese pairing of Zhikun Cai/Guang Qin Tian 21-31 in the semi-finals. Silver medallist at the World Masters Games held in New Zealand last year, the Dubai-based Sri Lankan badminton star seems to be at the pinnacle of her career though she won the last of her five national singles titles more than two decades ago.
“I never officially retired from the sport keeping myself fit by playing in tournaments when I moved to the UAE in 2011 and also doing coaching,” said Sriyani who has been running her own academy Deepika Badminton Academy for the past four years and also participates in the ongoing Dubai Sports World summer camp.
“I highly appreciate the encouragement given by the badminton fraternity in the UAE who wished me before every match with messages of support. This was a great source of inspiration for me to achieve success. I hope I could represent UAE in future international competitions,” said Deepika who played under the Sri Lanka flag.