Coach-less Ravindu Laksiri promises a history-making Asian Games | Sunday Observer

Coach-less Ravindu Laksiri promises a history-making Asian Games

13 August, 2023
Ravindu Laksiri at the PSA  Championship Down Under
Ravindu Laksiri at the PSA Championship Down Under

With no fanfare and the expertise of a coach, Ravindu Laksiri, Sri Lanka’s top squash player has set his sights on a groundbreaking achievement at the upcoming Asian Games in China next month.

Ranked 121st in the world, Laksiri has garnered attention not only for his remarkable climb up the rankings but also for his aspiration to secure Sri Lanka’s first-ever squash medal in the history of the Games.

Laksiri’s rise to the 121st rank is a monumental feat for Sri Lanka’s squash community, marking the highest world ranking ever achieved by a Sri Lankan player. This accomplishment has cemented his status as the torchbearer for the sport in his country, surpassing the previous best of 230th achieved by Navin Samarasinghe.

“My target is to play in the Asian Games next month. Definitely, I am in the frame of the top 16 seeding in Asia. My first target is to reach the semi-finals and if I can get up there a medal is definitely on,” the 10 time national champion confidently spoke his heart out.

Determined and prepared, Laksiri believes that facing the top-ranked players in Asia holds no fear for him. “There’s no issue in beating Asia’s number 1, 2, or 3.

It depends on the match day’s mentality as I have gained all the experience playing professional squash,” he stated, underscoring his prowess in the sport.

He has earned valuable experience by participating in Professional Squash Association (PSA) tournaments around the globe, securing an impressive eight titles since 2022.

Sri Lanka Squash president Dhammika Wijesundara shares Laksiri’s vision for success. “Sri Lanka Squash’s common objective is to support Laksiri to achieve a ranking under 100 in the world by the end of this year,” Wijesundara revealed.

The squash chief hinted at Laksiri’s strong chance of clinching a historic Asian Games medal, a triumph that has eluded all Sri Lankan players until now.

The Asian Games typically host a 64-player draw and Laksiri remains optimistic about his seeding. “I hope to be seeded in the top 16. My ambition is to initially reach the top four and then I will set my sights on a medal,” he declared.

Laksiri’s journey to the 121st rank has been marked by relentless dedication and strategic decisions. Following his transition to professional PSA squash in the previous year, he embarked on a remarkable trajectory.

His world ranking soared from 614 to 121 within seven months, thanks in part to Sri Lanka Squash’s strategic move to convert the national tournament into a Satellite PSA event. This change earned Laksiri 50 points towards his world ranking, a significant boost in his ascent.

However, a critical challenge looms ahead of the Asian Games: Laksiri currently lacks a coach to guide his preparations.

“This period is crucial until next month’s Asian Games; the biggest issue is I don’t have a coach right now. I have to train within the country. The biggest issue I face is not having a coach,” he revealed.

Analysts contend that with just 45 days remaining until the Games, the plan should be aimed to equip Laksiri with the necessary tools—mental strength, fitness and skills—to secure the coveted medal.

Laksiri emphasized the transformative impact of working with a coach, recalling his substantial improvement with a Pakistan coach’s guidance before 2022.

His recent accomplishments are a testament to his skill and determination. During his Australia tour, he emerged victorious in three out of six PSA tournaments, culminating in back-to-back championship titles Down Under.

Notably, he defeated Korean number one Jaejin Yoo, a victory that bolstered his Asian ranking to 25 and added to his growing list of accolades.

From his early introduction to squash at the age of seven to becoming a continuous national champion since 2017, Laksiri’s journey has been one of dedication and triumph.

His pursuit of excellence has been supported by his employer Brandix Aparel Limited who have blessed his participation in PSA tournaments and practice sessions.

Laksiri’s career is studded with milestones, from his first international trophy in Malaysia to his participation in three consecutive Commonwealth Games. His dedication to the sport, coupled with unwavering support from family, sponsors and squash associations, underscores his determination to create history at the forthcoming Asian Games.

As the Asian Games draw near, Laksiri remains steadfast in his pursuit of squash glory.

With his sights set on a medal, he stands as a beacon of hope and inspiration for Sri Lanka’s squash enthusiasts and the nation as a whole. His journey from a young enthusiast to a global contender is a testament to the power of dedication, hard work and unwavering determination.