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A chance to end our Olympic medal drought 

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by Rex Clementine 

Population of a nation is no indication of their sporting talents or achievements. Look at Barbados. Their population is less than 300,000 but look at the cricketers they have produced. Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge, Three Ws, Sir Garry Sobers, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, and the list goes on. Similarly, Fiji with a population of less than 900,000 are sure of a medal at Olympics. Their rugby has not let them down.

Sri Lanka won their first Olympic medal in 1948 in London and had to wait for more than half a century to win their second in Sydney.

At present our athletes qualifying for the Olympics itself is considered a noteworthy achievement by many. Fans don’t expect our stars to go beyond the first round at the games. But there was excitement among local fans this week following the announcement that cricket could feature in the games as early as Los Angeles in 2028, followed by Brisbane 2032 and thereon.

So, countries like Sri Lanka where the main sport is cricket, have got a good chance to have a crack at the Olympics and finish with a medal.

All these years, unless you have a champion like Susanthika Jayasinghe or Duncan White, you had little chance of a medal. You just live in hope that we are able to produce a champion athlete somewhere down the line as we do not reach the required standards to field a side in team sports. But now all that is set to change and we can look forward to the performances of our team when Olympics is around. They could well go on to end the medal drought.

Not just Sri Lanka, but for other Asian nations like Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the introduction of cricket is a good opportunity for them to end the medal drought.

Cricket should have featured in the Olympics a long time ago. There was a push to bring the sport into Olympics sometime back. But for a variety of reasons, India blocked the move.

There was a lot of hope that cricket will feature in the 2012 games when London hosted the Olympics with cricket being the national sport of Great Britain. But it was not to be.

However with Jay Shah, Indian cricket’s most powerful man giving the nod for cricket to be included at Olympics, there is a lot of excitement.

There was a time between 2007 to 2014 that Sri Lanka had an excellent run in ICC events. They reached five World Cup finals and won one. Don’t you get the feeling that had cricket been there at Olympics in that period the nation could have won a few medals? Surely, we missed gold.



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Sports

Dialog powers Warrior Trophy Rugby 7s

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The speed and power of 7’s rugby action is back this month after a lapse of more than a year due to the Covid 19 pandemic, as Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, Dialog Axiata PLC in partnership with the steering committee, which comprises of the Sri Lanka Army, Navy, Air Force and Police will kick-off the Warrior Trophy Rugby 7s at 9am on October 30 at Police Park.

The commanders of the Sri Lanka Army, Navy, Air Force together with the IGP of the Sri Lanka Police have assured the fullest support in making this event a success. The Warrior Trophy will also perform as a platform for national selectors to pick the squad for the Asian Rugby men’s 7s series that will be played on November 19 and 20 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The tourney will be played behind closed doors. However, it will be broadcast live on the terrestrial channel Supreme TV (Dialog Television channel number 20) and will also be available via live stream on ThePapare.com and Dialog VIU mobile app. The grand final will be played at the same venue on October 31 from 4 pm onwards. The tourney will be officiated by the Sri Lanka Society of Rugby Football Referees.

Sri Lanka Club Rugby 7’s giants CH & FC and Havelock SC will field their best teams, while Army SC, Navy SC, Air Force SC and Police SC will play with two teams each for the Warrior Trophy Rugby 7s 2021 powered by Dialog.

The Warrior Trophy Rugby 7s will be played in accordance with health and safety guidelines mandated by government health authorities to minimize the risk of spreading of Covid 19. Teams will practice in isolation via a bio bubble set up in advance and will undergo regular PCR checks and rapid antigen tests to ensure safety.

“Sports is an integral part of Sri Lankan lives and I’m pleased for the initiative taken by the Steering Committee of Warrior Trophy Rugby 7s to restart rugby in Sri Lanka and the support given by the National Team and Club Rugby sponsor, Dialog Axiata to meet the challenges of organising a tourney of this magnitude in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic,” Namal Rajapaksa, Minister of Youth and Sports said. “A tournament of this level is critical for selection and to prepare players before a grueling tourney like the Asian Rugby men’s 7s series. I wish the Steering Committee and Dialog the very best for two days of excellent 7s play,” he added.

“I’m indeed pleased that one of Sri Lanka’s biggest supporters of national sports, Dialog Axiata has once again come forward to support the game of rugby,” Senior DIG Ranmal Kodituwakku, Chairman, Steering Committee of the Warrior Trophy Rugby 7s said.

“With the assistance and guidance of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Sports, the Steering Committee of the Warrior Trophy Rugby 7s will ensure the tourney will be played in keeping with the health, safety and wellbeing of the participating teams,” Kodituwakku further added.

“As the sponsor of the National Rugby team and Club Rugby, Dialog is pleased to see the progressive steps taken by the Steering Committee of the Warrior Trophy Rugby 7s to organise a tournament of this magnitude,” Harsha Samaranayake, Senior General Manager – Brand and Media, Dialog Axiata said. “Rugby is one of the most followed sports in Sri Lanka and the fans are looking forward to see their clubs back in action. I wish the Warrior Trophy Rugby 7s for a successful tourney.”

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Vaas proud of fast bowling strength at Sri Lanka’s disposal

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Rex Clementine in Sharjah

Former fast bowling great Chaminda Vaas has done well to develop a potent fast bowling attack since being roped into the role. The pace that Sri Lanka possess at the moment is quite formidable with three bowlers clocking over 140kmph. While Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara have clocked above 145 kmph during the ongoing ICC T-20 World Cup, this week, the third seamer Chamika Karunaratne broke the 140 kmph barrier.

“What we have seen is three guys bowling over 140kmph in tandem. We right now have two guys bowling at 145kmph and Chamika Karunaratne slightly slower than them. Great to see that. I am looking forward to see how they will fare in Test cricket as well. We will have a good time moving forward and exciting times are ahead,” Vaas told a group of Sri Lankan journalists.

Lahiru Kumara was a late addition to the squad but has been quite a handful. He used to be erratic despite possessing raw pace, but right now has got his act together bowling with more accuracy. He also has added a new weapon to his armoury, bowling deadly yorkers.

“Lahiru was in the pool but wasn’t in the squad of 15. We have been doing a lot of work with him trying to develop his skill. He was desperate to get a few things right. His stats in T-20 cricket were not good enough for his immense talent. To his credit, he put in the hard yards. Did a lot of work with our trainer Dilshan Fonseka. I guess those things have stood in good stead during the tournament,” Vaas explained.

The strategy to include Kumara seems to have stemmed from the fact that Sri Lanka realized that teams playing the qualifying round like Ireland, Netherlands and Namibia had not faced extra pace and Kumara had got a last minute nod. “That was the plan. We know these teams play medium pace bowlers lots of the time. So once you have extra pace it can be quite handy. What I am impressed is not just the pace but the control they are showing with the pace. The accuracy has been spot on and I wish they keep doing it as we move forward,” Vaas pointed out.

Vaas has done a few technical adjustments to Kumara’s games and it is paying dividends. “Did a few changes like his run-up and wrist position and especially he trained a lot on bowling yorkers. Just keep a cone and try hitting that. He’s been terrific to be honest. The more you do this stuff as a fast bowler you keep improving. Glad to see Lahiru having that desire to get his act together and the results are there for everyone to see”

Dushmantha Chameera is the leader of the bowling unit and some impressive performances in the home series against India and South Africa earned him an IPL contract. “He has been terrific in the last eight months. He has learned the art of swinging the ball and when you do that with his pace that can be quite handy. He is another guy who works hard on his bowling. You have got to give him credit. He is a very passionate guy who wants to see Sri Lankan cricket doing well.”

Traditionally, your quickest seamers share the new ball, but in T-20 cricket there is a whole lot of new dimension that has come in and it is not so anymore and instead Sri Lanka have opted for Karunaratne. “Chamika can bowl at any point. We used him early because one-side of the Abu Dhabi ground is smaller. When you give him the first over, you can make the best out of Dushmantha and Lahiru. We can keep them for the middle overs and the death overs which is vital. That’s the thinking behind. When we want a wicket we try to bring in the extra pace of those two,” Vaas elaborated.

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Badminton players to fight for half a million rupee prize bag at WPBA Open Championships

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The tournament, organized jointly by WPBA and SLB, will see events conducted under 31 categories, including open men’s and women’s singles, doubles, and mixed doubles as well as age group events for several categories including Under 17, 19, and over 35. 

A total of half a million rupees will be on offer for the winners of the Li – Ning Western Province Badminton Association (WPBA) Open Badminton Championship, which will take place at St. Joseph’s College Indoor Stadium from November 11-14, Sri Lanka Badminton (SLB) announced.

The high profile tournament, organized jointly by WPBA and SLB, will see events conducted under 31 categories, including open men’s and women’s singles, doubles, and mixed doubles as well as age group events for several categories including Under 17, 19, and over 35.

All events will contribute towards national rankings and will be based on SLB Rankings published on the official web portal of the badminton governing body. The shuttlecocks to be used during the matches will be Li Ning, the official partner of the event.

Apart from the lucrative cash awards, all winners, runners-up, and semi-finalists of the Championships will be awarded certificates and trophies/medals.

The Championships will run on a knock-out basis and all matches will be played according to the rules and regulations approved by the BWF and as adopted by SLB.

SLB said that all entries should be handed over to Sri Lanka Badminton, Maitland Place, Colombo 07. According to them, no postal entries would be entertained. Entries close on November 3 at 7.00 pm and accepted entries can be viewed on the SLB website and displayed on the notice boards at SLB from November 5.

The draw will take place on November 8 at SLB Headquarters at 11.00 am and will be published on the SLB Notice Board and the website (www.srilankabadminton.lk) and their facebook page.

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