Badminton Life

Sri Lankan Include Female Olympic Shuttler for The First Time

Sri Lanka's Tilini Jayasinghe started her sporting life as a swimmer but eventually chose badminton. Little did she know that when he made that fateful switch many years ago, she had plotted her own path to the Olympic Games.

Jayasinghe has become the first female badminton player to be picked to represent Sri Lanka in the Olympic Games badminton competition and will take her place in Beijing.

Although Sri Lanka has no real badminton tradition, in world terms, the Olympics provide players from smaller countries the opportunity to slug it out with the giants on the greatest sporting stage on earth.

But for Jayasinghe, her Olympic achievements would never have materialized had it not been for a chance trip to a gymnasium when she was nine years ago.

Her parents worked at the Peradeniya University and one day, her mother took her along to a local badminton tournament. As it turned out, the under-9 novice competition was short of players.

"Seeing me around somebody walked up to me and asked me to participate merely to make up the numbers. I agreed but nobody knew me as I was never before involved in badminton," she said in an article in the Sri Lankan media.

"I played and did better than some of the shuttlers of my age who had been coached before. But the girls from my school Mahamaya College cheered against me as they did not know that I was from the same school."

She won her first title at the age of 13 in a Kandy under-13 tournament and soon became the national champion in the same age group. She continued her success, winning national age group titles until she was 19.

In 2004, she became the first player from the Kandy district and Central Province to become the All Sri Lanka national women's singles champion.

"Winning trophies became a habit far me and my cupboard is full of trophies and medals won at various tournaments", she said proudly.

In Sri Lanka, the country's top athletes are not full-time and normally represent their companies in inter-country competitions.

Jayasinghe works for Sampath Bank, which fully supports her badminton career and gives her time off to take part in tournaments or travel abroad.

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