‘Lucky’ Thilini receives second consecutive Olympics berth

By Reemus Fernando

Beijing Olympics participant Thilini Jayasinghe has received a late entry to compete at the forthcoming London Olympics badminton competition (women’s singles) after South African shuttler Kerry-Lee Harrington reportedly withdrew her entry according to Parakrama Basnayaka, President of the Badminton Federation.

"We received the good news today in the afternoon (July 10). She is lucky. The withdrawal of South African player Kerry opened an opportunity for Jayasinghe. The world governing body informed us her entry today," Basnayaka told ‘The Island’ yesterday.

Sri Lankan player was one of the ‘first nine reserves’ for the Olympic spots after the women’s singles world rankings for the London Olympics were finalised over a month ago. The reserves get the opportunity when top-ranked players, who had already been allocated Olympics spots, withdraw from the competition for various reasons.

When Jayasinghe getting closer to an Olympics spot, some of the highest ranked players in Sri Lanka, including veteran shuttler Chandrika de Silva, alleged that the Badminton Federation had been biased towards Jayasinghe. De Silva found fault with the badminton selection process saying that Jayasinghe had been beaten at local tournaments and is ranked low.

"Jayasinghe is lowly ranked in Sri Lanka because her concerns were for Olympics. She gave prominence to world ranking tournaments. She cleverly selected ranking tournaments through the help of veterans. There was no favouritism on the part of the Badminton Federation. It is up to the badminton players to select which world ranking tournament they want to play," Basnayaka said in reply to a query by ‘The Island.’

Jayasinghe becomes the first Sri Lankan shuttler to qualify for two editions of Olympics. Although she ranked low in Sri Lanka, she is ranked above all other female shuttlers in world singles rankings.

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