Dinesh Deshappriya during a contest at the CG in India

Not being in the best medical condition hasn’t deterred table tennis player Dinesh Deshappriya. In fact he looks forward to being ill and if he maintains this rather gloomy medical condition of his, Dinesh can represent Sri Lanka at the upcoming Thailand Para Open tournament, scheduled to be held from July 23-28.

Dinesh is a Hemophilia patient who is constantly battling joint inflammation due to this annoying medical condition. Hemophilia is a bleeding disorder which slows down the blood clotting process. As with Dinesh and other such patients, this condition prolongs bleeding following an injury and at times inflames joints because of unnecessary blood flow to joints. They run the risk of bleeding to death, but advancements in medical science have produced drugs which keep this condition in check.

Dinesh told The Nation that he takes medication from the National Heamatology Unit and is educated enough on this medical condition that he is able to take his own injections. The injections he takes causes no side effects and the most positive thing about the medication is that the drugs used don’t cause problems during dope testing.

Dinesh is already an international player having represented Sri Lanka at many international tournaments in the able category. He had his first experience playing in the Gisabled Games when he won a silver medal at the Asia Para Games in Korea last year. Much of Dinesh’s time every day goes to attending to his medical needs.

“I don’t practice much. Often I save the energies to play in the tournament. My prime focus is to take my injections and keep this condition under check. I can only play with peace of mind if I am medically fit. Physical fitness has only a small role to play in my condition,” explained the 30-year-old sportsman.

Dinesh competes in ‘class 10’ at the Para Games. That’s a class where players have a slight impediment, but are able to stand and play. The authorities have three categories for Para Games; 1-5 is represented by those on wheelchair, 6-10 who have impediments but can stand and class 11 is represented by those who are mentally disturbed. All players, despite the medical records they bring from their personal doctors, are subject to checking before a Para Games event.

“This is because the disabled condition can change. I am now in class 10 and right now effected by Osteoarthritis. If my condition worsens, I will have to switch to another category,” said Dinesh who is ranked 13th in the world and 3rd in Asia in the Para Games table tennis event.

He has to play in five Para Games events to qualify for the 2016 Para Olympics in Rio. He said that the Thailand Para Open is his first attempt and that he was in search of sponsors to make it to all these tournaments. The criterion for qualification to book his ticket to Rio is to work up to a 210 world ranking in Para Games table tennis.

As a table tennis player he browses the internet a good deal in search of information on Para Games and his medical condition. In fact it was during one of his net searches that he unearthed the fact that there was a Para Games before he decided to try his luck.

He also plays in the able category and is ranked 4th among the Sri Lankan male players in the singles event.

“I believe I am the only Sri Lankan player to represent the country at both able and disabled games in any sport,” he said.

Dinesh’s last assignment with the national able team was when they contested the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. He is at present a professional table tennis player and represents the Sri Lanka Navy at domestic tournaments.

He said he prefers to contest the Para Games adding: ‘I can do something big in this category.’

Dinesh takes this opportunity to thank Navy Table Tennis Chairman CMDE DLMN Dissanayake, Navy Table Tennis Secretary CDR WMA Bowatte and National Paralympic Committee, Haematology Unit Consultants Dr. Mala Tudawe, Dr. Bhaddika Jayaratne and Dr. Visaka Rathnamalala for the support extended to him to pursue his sports career.