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2002 world medals that Sugath and Rohan never received

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Sri Lankan duo’s unknown world medals

by Reemus Fernando  

It was a time when Sri Lanka had in possession some of Asia’s best sprinters. Sri Lanka was so strong in the men’s 400 metres from mid 90s to early 2000s, when the IAAF conducted its World Athletics Continental Cup in 2002, the Asian continental team fielded two Sri Lankan sprinters in the 4×400 metres relay team. It was at this meet in Madrid that the Asian Games medallists Sugath Thilakaratne and Rohan Pradeep Kumara achieved their best feat (according to placing) at a world event, a fourth place finish which was later upgraded to bronze. While Sugath and Rohan competed in the relay, Susanthika Jayasinghe competed in women’s 100 metres to win the bronze which was upgraded to silver years later. However, 18 years after the achievement and many years after their fourth place was upgraded to bronze, Sugath and Rohan are yet to receive the medal and the cash reward that accompany it.   

“To be placed fourth in the relay was a huge achievement. During the previous edition (in Johannesburg in 1998) I was placed sixth in the individual event. I was disappointed that time because I could not get accustomed to the weather there. As I remember, in Madrid the race had to be rescheduled due to rain. We were able to finish fourth. Later it was upgraded to bronze. However I did not know that our fourth place had been upgraded to bronze until 2014 or 2015,” recalled Thilakaratne in an interview with The Island. 

It was Sri Lanka Athletics’ respected statistician Saman Kumara Gunawardena who informed Thilakaratne of his highest achievement at World Stage to the amusement of the Sri Lankan record holder. However, Thilakaratne and Rohan are yet to receive the medal years after the USA team were stripped off the gold medal and the other medals were upgraded to gold and silver and fourth place to bronze. 

“Some huge prize money was offered for winners at these championships. For relays they offered close to US $ 100,000 for the gold, 60,000 for the silver and 40,000 for the bronze. We received neither the medal nor the prize money. It was many years after the event that we came to know. The Sri Lankan public deserved to know our achievement. But that did not happen,” said Thilakaratne. 

Why USA were disqualified  

The World Athletics’ (formerly IAAF) quadrennial event featured Americas, Africa, Asia, USA, Great Britain, Oceania, Germany and Europe. USA were inclusive of James Carter, Leonard Byrd, Godfrey Herring and Antonio Pettigrew. Of them Byrd and Pettigrew were part of the US team that won the 4×400 metres relay gold medal at the 2001 World Championships and Pettigrew was part of the US team that won the 2000 Sydney Olympic 4×400 metres gold. USA clocked 2:59.21 in winning the gold medal and the lucrative cash award. Americas team largely inclusive of athletes from the Carrabin islands (Félix Sánchez, Alleyne Francique, Michael Mcdonald, Michael Blackwood ) returned a time of 2:59.19 to be placed second. Africa clinched the bronze returning a time of 3:01.69 seconds while Asia finished just outside medals. The result of this event and several World and Olympic sprint events were changed many years later after Pettigrew admitted to using Erythropoietin, commonly known as EPO. Giving evidence in a 2008 trial involving his coach Trevor Graham, Pettigrew admitted using the performance enhancing drug between 1997 and 2003. World Athletics and the International Olympic Committee stripped off the gold medals won by US teams involving Pettigrew.  

“When I look back at what has happened we can be happy that we competed as clean athletes though we could not win a medal that day. Sanity has prevailed. They have rectified the records. But the World Athletics and the Asian Athletics Association can send a message even now to present day athletes by retrieving the medals and awarding them to the teams who were placed behind the USA team,” said Thilakaratne who did not make that request on his behalf during his tenure as the president of Sri Lanka Athletics.  

A senior official of Sri Lanka Athletics said that awarding of medals were the responsibility of the Asian Athletics Association as the three athletes had represented Asia at the World Cup. 



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Angelo and Nirushika clinch best boxer titles at Novices Tournament

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Title winners posing with officials.

S.P.P. Angelo of St. Sylvester’s BC and Nirushika Jayathissa of Up Hill BC were adjudged the Best Boxers of the Novices Boxing Tournament held at the Royal MAS Arena in Colombo. The tournament, organised by the Boxing Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), featured a record number of 186 boxers from 27 clubs.

Rohan de Silva, Group Director of McLarens Group of Companies and President of Sri Lanka Badminton, was the chief guest on the final day, presenting the special awards alongside BASL President Dian Gomes. The five-day event showcased a high standard of boxing with intense, fast-paced matches, setting a competitive tone for the new season.

Angelo and Nirushika Jayathissa, both 19, were recognised for their exceptional technique and ring craft, earning the Best Boxer titles in the men’s and women’s categories, respectively. Angelo, a two-time Stubbs Shield silver medallist, demonstrated remarkable skill, winning all his bouts with ease. His performance in the featherweight (under 57kg) final was particularly notable, where he knocked out Chandrapala from Air Force with a perfectly timed right hook in the final round.

Nirushika, representing Uphill BC and a gold medallist at the Youth Championships 2023, impressed the judges despite having only one year of boxing experience. She outpointed seasoned soldier Virajini in the featherweight (under 57kg) category, winning by unanimous decision.

For the first time in Sri Lankan boxing history, cash awards were given to men and women Best Boxers of the event.

The tournament also recognised other notable performances. Army’s Adhikari was awarded the Best Loser’s award after a close 3:2 decision loss in the welterweight (under 67kg) bout against MM Paris of St. Sylvester’s BC. In the women’s category, 19-year-old Sanduni Imesha of Air Force, a product of Naradeniya CC, Kamburupitiya, and a gold medallist at the Youth Girls meet, was named Best Loser for her valiant effort in the light flyweight (under 50kg) final against Devindi from Hanwella Rajasinghe BC.

In terms of team achievements, Army Archers men’s and Army women’s teams topped the medals tally with four golds each. St. Sylvester’s BC secured three gold medals, while Army Red, Army Blue, and other Army teams collectively won ten golds in the 13-weight men’s competition. The Air Force women’s team also performed strongly, finishing second overall with three gold medals.

Final results

MEN

Minimum Weight (46-48kg):PKU Silva (SL Army Archers) beat AAN de Silva (West Coast BC) WP 5:0

Fly Weight (48-51kg):DDM Sampath (SL Army Archers) beat SPWGC Rathnasiri (SL Navy Bismark) WP 5:0

Bantam Weight (51-54kg):SPBR Premalal (SL Army Blue) beat KWSMA Dasunpriya (SL Army Archers) WP 3:2

Feather Weight (54-57kg):SPP Angelo (St Sylvester’s BC) beat BMM Chandrapala (SL Air Force) KO R3

Light Weight (57-60kg):RM Pushpakumara (SL Army Archers) beat HMGCN Dissanayake (SL Army Red) WP 3:2

Light Welter Weight (60-63.5kg):TDD Upawansha (SL Army) beat AGVH Jayasinghe (St Sylvester’s BC) WP 4:1

Welter Weight (63.5-67kg):MM Paris (St Sylvester’s BC) beat AADD Adhikari (SL Army Red) WP 3:2

Light Middle Weight (67-71kg):AACS Kumara (SL Army Archers) beat V Ratheesh (Hanwella Rajasinghe BC) RSC R1

Middle Weight (71-75kg):YM Usaith (St Sylvester’s BC) beat LGM Bandara (SL Navy Bismark) RSC R1

Light Heavy Weight (75-80kg):HMMM Herath (SL Army) beat PA Samarasinghe (SL Navy Bismark) RSC R1

Cruiser Weight (80-86kg):MDK Silva (Back2Fit) beat JMIPP Kumara (SL Army Red) WP 4:1

Heavy Weight (86-92kg):WPSK Ranasinghe (SL Army Red) beat R Deshmikanth (Omega Line) RSC R1

Super Heavy Weight (92+kg):HMCT Weerakoon (SL Army Blue) beat KG Pitampe (Hanwella Rajasinghe BC) RSC-I R1

WOMEN

Minimum Weight (45-48Wkg):AGHD Premasiri (SL Air Force) beat EMSC Chandrasiri (Jayawardenapura University) RSC R1

Light Fly Weight (48-50kg):MDK Devindi (Hanwella Rajasinghe BC) beat NWAS Imesha (SL Air Force) WP 5:0

Fly Weight (50-52kg):DMKT Dissanayaka (SL Air Force) beat WAW Nawodya (Sivali BC) RSC R1

Bantam Weight (52-54kg):EMKH Ekanayaka (SL Air Force) beat KAHS Dilshani (SL Army) RSC R1

Feather Weight (54-57kg):RDNP Jayathissa (Uphill) beat PHI Virajani (SLA) WP 5:0

Light Weight (57-60kg):S Rajkumar (BA) beat SIR Pathiraja (Hemamali BC) WP 5:0

Light Welter Weight (60-63kg):JDN Rathnasiri (Back2Fit) beat LDS Silva (SL Army) ABD R1

Welter Weight (63-66kg):PADR Sanjana (SL Navy) beat LDD Vimarshana (SL Army Red) WP 5:0

Light Middle Weight (66-70kg):JMR Rasanjali (SL Army) beat UGNH Jayathissa (University Peradeniya) RSC R1

Middle Weight (70-75kg):NMMS Narasinghe (SL Army) beat EMI Bandara (Veyangoda BC) RSC R2

Heavy Weight (81+kg):HADP Wathsala (SL Army) beat MADDS Kulasinghe (SL Army Blue) RSC R1

(ABD- Abandon, KO Knockout, Rn- Round number, RSC- Referee Stops Contest, RSC-I – Referee Stops Contest – Injury,  WP- Win on points.)

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Pooran blitz enables Lucknow Super Giants to finish on a high note

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Pooran hit eight sixes in his 29-ball knock (IPL)

Half-centuries by Rohit Sharma and Naman Dhir went in vain as Lucknow Super Giants secured an 18-run win in their last league game. Despite the win, LSG are out of contention for the playoffs. On the other hand, with four wins this season, Mumbai Indians yet again finished at the bottom of the table.

Brief scores:
Lucknow Super Giants
214/6 in 20 overs (Nicholas Pooran 75, KL Rahul 55, Marcus Stonis 28; Nuwan Thushara 3-28, Piyush Chawla 3-29) beat Mumbai Indians 196/6 in 20 overs (Rohit Sharma 68, Dewald Brevis 23,  Naman Dhir 62*; Krunal Pandya 1-29, Mohsin Khan 1-45,  Ravi Bishnoi 2-37, Naveen Ul-Haq 2-50) by 18 runs 

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England spinners apply the squeeze as Pakistan slump to series-ending 65-run loss

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Alice Capsey struck twice in her first over, after an important innings with the bat (Cricinfo)

A disciplined, clinical performance with the ball and in the field saw England ease to a 65-run win in Northampton, taking an unassailable 2-0 lead over Pakistan. As in the first T20I, Sarah Glenn spearheaded her side with two wickets to follow up her four-wicket haul last Saturday, chopping through Pakistan’s middle order to cut the visitors, who fell apart with the bat once more, adrift.

Several bowlers chipped in, with Lauren Bell, Charlie Dean, Alice Capsey and Sophie Ecclestone – who became the leading WT20I wicket-taker for England with her three, all among the wickets. It came during another tame batting performance from Pakistan, whose flashes of talent were unable to plug the holes their lack of consistency left exposed. The pursuit of 145 never really got off the ground, and before long, Nida Dar’s side folded feebly for 79.

Pakistan had much to be hopeful about after the first innings. They dragged England back after a bright powerplay from the hosts, taking wickets at regular overs to stymie English momentum at every turn. It wasn’t quite as helpful a wicket to bat on as the one at Edgbaston, and England ensured most batters made contributions; five of the top seven scored between 15 and 31. A late cameo from Dani Gibson took England to 144, and while it seemed a vulnerable target at the time, England’s excellence in the second innings demonstrated it was anything but.

In an ultimately low-scoring game, England’s bellicose approach right from the outset provided them a buffer that would ultimately come in handy. Waheeda Akhtar was too straight with the first ball, and Maia Bouchier punished her with a flick for four, setting the powerplay tempo early. Another slap past point in the same over went for four, and Sadia Malik’s width was punished with a drive through the covers.

Capsey, meanwhile began stodgily, managing just two off the first nine. However, she cut loose in an onslaught against Waheeda in the fifth over, plundering five boundaries to make up for lost time. By the end of the fifth over, England had raced along to 43 for one; it would take Pakistan until the eighth over and the loss of three extra wickets before they breached that number. By that time, the game was all but secure for the hosts.

If Pakistan could have strung together their powerplay bowling performance in Birmingham with their middle-overs showing today, the series may well have been level. Pakistan enjoyed relative control during the eight overs that followed the powerplay in the first innings, keeping England on a leash with their parsimony with the ball and in the field. Nida, Nashra Sandhu and Diana Baig whizzed through their overs, tying Bouchier down before a stunning bit of fielding caught her out of her crease and ran her out. Dar’s variety in the air was instrumental in deceiving an onrushing Capsey as the brakes were applied across a 48-ball spell that saw just 42 scored and set Pakistan up nicely for the death

There’s little point in breaking Pakistan’s innings down into phases. Much of it was a phantasmagoria of an absence of intent, frenetic shot selection and self-imploding running between the wickets, all of which England were much too impressive not to punish. Bell received the payoff for a tight couple of overs with two wickets in the third, Gull Feroza and Sadaf Shamas smacking a couple straight to fielders as the pressure told. A handful of boundaries from Muneeba Ali in the second half of the powerplay was as good as it got for the Pakistan batters, but that 30-run partnership was followed by another clump of wickets that killed Pakistan off.

All of England’s bowlers understood Pakistan’s dilemma perfectly. They lack power hitters, and that means racking up dot deliveries can amp up the pressure in no time. That plan was executed to perfection, with a series of dot deliveries almost invariably followed up by high-risk shots that did not pay off. The last six wickets fell for just 19 on a scorecard that did not truly reflect Pakistan’s competitiveness in the first innings, though the gulf in quality between the two sides means the 2-0 scoreline is well deserved.

Brief scores:
England Women  144 for 6 in 20 overs (Maia Bouchier 30, Nat Sciver-Brunt 31, Alice Capsey 31; Waheeda Akhtar 1-31, Diana Baig 1-24, Sadia Iqbal 1-20, Nida Dar 2-33) beat Pakistan Women  79 in 15.5 overs (Aliya Riaz 19, Muneeba Ali 18; Sophie  Ecclestone 3-11, Alice Capsey 2-04, Lauren Bell 2-20, Sarah Glenn 2-10) by 65 runs

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