(Pictures by Gihan Doolwala )

Table tennis player Erandi Warusawithana knows well that women can be a great attraction in sport. This player from Ambalangoda has observed with interest the healthy following female table tennis players have abroad. Erandi in an interview with Nation said that she has been impressed by the manner in which female players in other countries try to grab attraction by wearing colourful clothing, matching shoes and striking headbands. “These players even use their personalities to the maximum in their attempt to come under the spotlight,” said Erandi who won the table tennis national singles crown in 2014.
She comes from a family that is involved in table tennis. Her brothers Supuna (rated 3rd in under 18-singles) and Hiruna (rated 3rd in under-12 singles) are regular players at junior table tennis tournaments. Being the eldest in the family she said she has a vital role to play in the family. But she said that safeguarding her position as the national champion just after she won the crown had put her under some pressure. “When you are the champion there is always the fear that someone might knock you out. I know that fear is bad and that’s why I want to channel those thoughts elsewhere and be a more disciplined and dedicated player,” she said.

Erandi lost her crown the following year, but unlike in other years tears were absent because she said that the sport has given her the confidence to face ups and downs in life. “Thanks to table tennis I have upgraded my personality,” she said.

She sees the need to have a specialized diet and has started attending gym sessions recently because she wants to pursue her career for many more years. She has won Sri Lanka’s most prestigious title in table tennis and her focus now is to win a medal at an international tournament.

Table tennis didn’t absorb all her time even though playing competitively. She was able to study hard and enter University of Sri Jayawardenepura where she will soon begin reading for a degree in Sports Science and Management. She is an example for those sportsmen and women who, absorbed in the glories of sport, neglect other aspects in life. “Life is not table tennis alone. I have a life outside it,” she said with a chuckle.

She has come a long way in the sport with the help of her parents Sumudu Warusawithana (Dad) and Nipunika Gunasinghe (Mom) and her coach Nishan Perera. Reflecting on her career she had this to say, “More and more women are taking to table tennis. This sport can help women gear themselves for the challenges of family life”.
It has been a long trek for Erandi and a successful one too, despite being born a premature child. She saw light after being seven months in her mother’s womb. She was a sick child and even suffered from the wheeze. When doctors told her to take to sport as the cure for her childhood ailments, she tried swimming and table tennis. Her love for the latter discipline grew in her like the passion that a sportsman develops for the winning habit in sport.

Erandi knew she had etched her name in the sport’s hall of fame when she was adjudged the Best Sportswoman (Girls) at the All-Island Schools Colours Awards Ceremony for the year 2014 after being considered for the award along with six other nominees. If she looks back at that achievement that surely must be the day she decided that she had come to stay in this sport played with the racket and ping pong ball.

Erandi Warusawithana  (2) Erandi Warusawithana  (4) Erandi Warusawithana  (3)