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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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Gurukula shock Bens, Koththigoda shines for Richmond

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Under 17 Division I Cricket Pre-quarter-finals

by Reemus Fernando

Playing on a matting wicket Gurukula shocked St. Benedict’s with a ten wicket win, S. Thomas’ ended Moratu Vidyalaya’s impressive run, while Richmond, St. Peter’s, St. Joseph’s and St. Sebastian’s had it easy against their rivals in the Under 17 Division I cricket tournament pre-quarter-finals played on Tuesday.

Gurukula delivered the knockout punch when Daham Vimukthi and Tharusha Kodikara grabbed three wickets each to bundle St. Benedict’s out for 71 runs. Gurukula openers Thathsara Eshan and Poorna Kalhara then kept their wickets intact to reach the target in just over ten overs.

In the match played at Karandeniya, Richmond’s Yuri Koththigoda and Pubudu Mihiranga picked up four wickets each to restrict De Mazenod’s to 99 runs and record 99 runs victory. Koththigoda produced remarkable bowling figures (10-6-7-4) giving away just seven runs in his ten overs which included six maidnes.

At Bambalapitiya, the right-arm left-arm spin combination of skipper Lashmika Perera (5/29) and Sasindu Silva helped St. Peter’s restrict Wesley to 119 runs before Nethan Devid scored an unbeaten half century to seal a comfortable seven wickets victory.

Moratu Vidyalaya’s impressive run in the tournament came to an end when S. Thomas’ registered a hard fought victory at Moratuwa. After restricting them to 234 runs Dineth Goonawardena and Kavindu Dias scored unbeaten half centuries to secure a six wicket victory.

Match results

Gurukula shock St. Benedict’s

at Kandana

Scores

St. Benedicts

71 all out in 28.2 overs (Nilakshana Nawam 16; Daham Vimukthi 3/18, Tharusha Kodikara 3/20, Thathsara Eshan 2/05)

Gurukula

74 for no loss in 10.2 overs (Thathsara Eshan 39n.o., Poorna Kalhara 28n.o.)

St. Sebastian’s in eight wickets win over St. Anne’s at Moratuwa

Scores:

St. Anne’s

102 all out in 35.1 overs (Buddima Nanadasiri 33, Nimantha Jayasundara 20, Navod Fernando 3/27, Jenen De Silva 2/15, Akash Dissanayake 2/26, Rayan Dissanayaka 2/11)

St. Sebastian’s

104 for 2 in 20.2 overs (Adesh Almeida 58, Rayan Dissanayaka 39, .o.; Jashmin Jayasundara 2/23)

S. Thomas’ beat Moratu Vidyalaya

at Moratuwa

Moratu MV

234 for 8 in 50 overs (Isuru Fernando 74, Hasindu Senanayaka 35, Deneth Sithumina 24, Ilukshan Silva 23, Rajindu Thilakaratna 2/46, Vihanga Rodrigo 2/47, Kavindu Dias 2/50)

S. Thomas’

236 for 4 in 48.1 overs (Sadev Soysa 48, Dineth Goonawardena 71n.o., Rajindu Thilakaratne 41, Kavindu Dias 55n.o.)

St. Joseph’s record seven wickets win

at Darley Road

Scores:

Mahanama

124 all out in 40.3 overs (Eshan Vithanage 53, Osanda Muthugama 17; Dunick Perera 2/15, Maanasa Madubashana 2/26, Yenula Dewthusa 3/09)

St. Joseph’s

125 for 3 in 22.4 overs (Abhishek Jayaweera 20, Sahan Dabare 43, Kenath Liyanage 33n.o.; Chamika Heenatigala 2/28)

Richmond beat De Mazenod by 99 runs at Karandeniya

Scores:

Richmond

198 all out in 49.1 overs (Pubudu Mihiranga 34, Thamindu Pradeeptha 31, Charuka Gunasekara 25, Lehan Subasinghe 24, Tinura Abeysekara 22, Malitha Perera 20; Savinu Chanthula 3/47, Nipuna Theekshana 2/05, Kavindu Kaushalya 2/20, Neshan Dias 2/27)

De Mazenod

99 all out in 27.1 overs (Kenul Dhananjaya 23, Neshan Dias 20; Yuri Koththigoda 4/07, Pubudu Mihiranga 4/26)

St. Peter’s beat Wesley

at Bambalapitiya

Scores:

Wesley

119 all out in 36.4 overs (Ravindu Sigera 32, Manuth Samarakoon 23, Lashmika Perera 5/29, Sasindu Silva 4/14)

St. Peter’s

123 for 3 in 30.5 overs (Oween Salgado 37, Nethan Devid 50n.o., Lashmika Perera 18n.o.; Jathon Wieman 2/32)

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Navy SC crowned champions of the Invitational Women’s T20 tourney

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Navy Sports Club with their trophies.

The Navy Sports Club (Navy SC) won the title of the Sri Lanka Cricket conducted Invitational Women’s T20 League tournament on Monday.

In the final of the tournament held at the Thurstan Ground, Colombo, the Navy SC edged out the Air Force SC by eight runs to clinch the title.

Batting first, the Navy SC scored 121 runs for the loss of six wickets in their quota of 20 overs. For the Navy Umesha Thimeshani top scored with a knock of 30 runs. In reply, the Air Force SC only managed to score 113 runs for the loss of seven wickets in 20 overs. In the bowling department, Madhuri Samuddhika and Sathya Sandeepani took two for 21 and two for 23 respectively for the Navy.

Meanwhile, Madhuri Samuddhika and Sathya Sandeepani of the Navy Sports Club won awards for Women’s Player of the Final and Women’s Player of the Tournament respectively. In addition, Hansima Karunarathne, the skipper of Navy SC, was adjudged the Best Bowler of the tournament.

Sri Lanka Navy Sports Club were also the winners of the women’s division one 50 over cricket tournament organized by SLC.

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Isipatana find winning rhythm to take ‘league’ rugby crown

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Members of the unbeaten Isipatana College rugby team celebrate winning the Division 1 Segment A school rugby tournament by beating Royal College in the decider last Sunday.

By a Special Sports Correspondent

School rugby this season produced joy, realised expectations and tears for teams as Isipatana College brought the curtains down on the league rugby tournament with a memorable win against Royal College in the decider played on August 14 (Sunday).

Isipatana College, very different from the sides of yesteryear, displayed all the qualities of modern rugby which is spiced with speed, power, and brute size. Skipper and number eight Dahan Nithina showed that rugby is a game for the big boys and rallied his team during the season to finish on top after seven grueling weeks of rugby. The Green Shirts also had small made players, but this Isipatana side-when compared with the other Division 1 sides- was never wanting for size. In positions where players were lacking in size the lads from Havelock Town made up for it with guts, courage and intelligence.

Overall, Isipatana was the side to watch and perhaps was drawn onto a group where competition was the stiffest. Vidyartha and Science in the league stage of the tournament produced some anxious moments for them, but the side came through with collective efforts. Till the final Isipatana’s best performance came when they beat Viyartha up in Kandy.

Another reason why this side slowly became the side to watch was that they improved with each game. Much credit must go to the coaches Saliya Kumara (Head coach), Dhanushka Botheju (Forwards Coach) and Heshan Gomex (Trainer) for the inputs made to the side.

It always looked professional when the Green Shirts were running the ball and there was a knack in almost all these players to create openings for tries. Some of the players who were outstanding in running with the ball and creating scoring opportunities for the team were Rinesh Silva, Wewala Pandith, Skipper Daham Nithina, Sonal Sansoni, Praveen Stephan, Venura Sangeeth, Sooriya Dodangoda, Dinsara De Costa and Naveen Kanishka.

School rugby is played with many support services and Isipatana College too has that support. When a team walks into a stadium with a large contingent it underscores that things are in order. Isipatana like most of the other teams showed their rugby at school is both well nurtured and nourished.

Efforts made to compile this article would not be complete if the mention is not made of Isipatana’s past glories even in capsule form. The Green Shirts first won the schools’ league crown under Chandana Deepthi when the tournament officially commenced in 1985. They had many glorious seasons there onwards and took home the league and also the knock-out titles on many occasions. The last time the lads from Havelock Town won the league crown was in 2016.

Royal too played well and spent all their ‘petrol’ on the field despite knowing that the all-important Brady Shield vs Trinity is to take place in a few days. It’s creditable that all teams hung on till the end and completed their matches in the league given that this is the first year after the pandemic that a school rugby season was played in full.

The other two teams which made it to the Super League Round are Wesley and St. Joseph’s College.

For the record Zahira and D.S Senanayake College playing in the Division 1 Segment B Tournament finished unbeaten and earned a promotion to play in the Segment A Tournament next season.

Mention must be made of Lalith Athulathmudali MV which came on top in Division 2 Group A after clearing their final hurdle against President’s College Maharagama on Sunday. Lalith Athulathmudali MV coached by Ajith Fernando won the match 13-10.

The Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association which did well to organize the tournament also received some brickbats from critics for failing to control unruly spectators during matches; on several occasions this season.

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