The World 39th ranked badminton player in the world Niluka Karunaratne will be in Kampala next week to defend his Uganda International Open title.
Simon Mugabi, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Uganda Badminton Association (UBA) confirmed to Uganda Radio Network on Monday evening that the Sri Lankan who also took part at last year’s London Olympics is expected to arrive on Tuesday next week.
The tournament sanctioned by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) will take place February 21-24 at the MTN Arena in Lugogo.
While the Sri Lanka player has confirmed his participation, Jeannine Cicognini from Switzerland will not defend the women’s title. He said although they are still zeroing on sponsors to support the event, all is getting on well and the draws will be made early next week.
Mugabi explained that with a better playing venue at Lugogo unlike the Sharing Youth Centre used last year, the tournament will be more competitive. Eight other countries including Nigeria, Germany, Hungary, Scotland, Italy, India, Mauritius, Egypt and Kenya will send players for the high profile tournament.
Uganda’s top player Edwin Ekiring who had indicated he could skip the event has also made a last minute entry. Ekiring, currently ranked 117 in the world and and represented the country in the last two Olympic Games will however have to work hard against top world players.
Uganda’s top women’s player Shamim Bangi who fell out at the quarter final stage of the Cyprus International event last month will also have to work hard against Africa’s top player Grace Gabriel (Nigeria) the second best Kate Fookune from Mauritius. The tournament will have the men’s and women’s singles and doubles, and the mixed doubles.
Mugabi said the organisers are still looking for sponsors for the $5000 prize money for the outstanding players and also transport for the foreign players.