Connect with us

Sports

A year after Olympic qualifying debacle, will Nilani face the same predicament?

Published

on

by Reemus Fernando

Steeplechase runner Nilani Ratnayake put back the disappointment of missing the Tokyo Olympics when she produced a superb world-leading time of 9:47.47 seconds at the first selection trial in February. More than a month after that feat her timing is the eighth fastest in the world for a steeplechaser this year and more importantly she is ranked 33rd in the World Athletics’ ‘Road to Oregon’ World Championship rankings. But with only the upcoming National Championship available to have another go at her own national record mark, will the same predicament that deprived her from taking part in the Olympics befall the Army athlete again?

Not many are aware of NIlani’s current standings in the ‘Road to Oregon’ World Championship rankings’. There is talk within the athletics fraternity to send a wildcard for the Athletics World Championship in Oregon, USA in July. Like the not-so-popular track discipline itself, the long distance runner too remain in the shadows of more flamboyant athletes, though her impressive performance has placed her at the forefront of the race to win qualifying standards for the world event. According to World Athletics some 45 athletes are selected for the women’s steeplechase with 24 being chosen by entry standards and another 21 picked by world rankings positions. Though Nilani remains in contention for World Championship participation on today’s standings, the lack of top grade competitions will hinder her chances of maintaining the current position.

In the lead up to Tokyo Olympics, Nilani was Sri Lanka’s prime prospect in track and field sports as she was within the required rankings to earn a place in the team to Japan. Six months ahead of the Olympics she was ranked 35th in the world and the then World Athletics ‘Road to Olympics rankings’ showed that what was required was just maintaining that position. But lack of quality competitions and a technical faux pass at one of the local competitions meant that she missed the opportunity. On the cutoff date to reach qualifying standards she was ranked just outside the ‘Road to Olympic Rankings’.

Now in a World Championship year, Ratnayake is ranked 33rd in the ‘Road to Oregon rankings’. There will be top competitions accessible to her counterparts from other countries but her.

With the World Championship coinciding with Sri Lanka Athletics Centenary year it is only appropriate that the country’s governing body and the Ministry of Sports do their best to send qualified athletes for the world event rather than taking the easy option of sending a wildcard.

In the men’s category the US based high jumper Ushan Thiwanka has produced some outstanding performances. Despite improving the country’s indoor high jump record, he did not get an opportunity to take part in the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade where he could have earned valuable points to improve on his world ranking and the prospect of qualifying for the World Championships.

The ranking system, introduced by World Athletics a couple of years ago, requires you to compete in top grade competitions to improve your rankings.  Despite having a personal best of 2.30 metres (Sri Lanka record) from May 2021 and producing a seasonal best of 2.27metres in February this year Thiwanka is not in the World Athletics’ ‘Road to Oregon’ World Championship rankings so far. His 2.27 metres produced in February is the third best performance in the world in an outdoor competition this year. At the World Indoor Championships only six athletes had jumped higher than Thiwanka’s seasonal best. Yet such a bright prospect like Thivanka will not be eligible to compete at the World Championships.

The athletes like Thivanka and NIlani only need top grade competitions to improve their rankings. Recently when asked about Sri Lanka Athletics’ plans to help top athletes improve on their rankings the athletics chief said that a Grand Prix will be held in June to help them. But with the country’s current economic crisis it is doubtful whether the cash trapped institutions would be able to provide the necessary support  to make it a reality.



Sports

Joes and HFC win Under-20 basketball titles

Published

on

Due to the pandemic, there wasn’t much sporting activities in schools for two years and basketball players showed lot of enthusiasm as their sport was in full swing since April holidays. Sri Lanka Schools Basketball Association despite many challenges successfully conducted the All Island Under-20 basketball tournament at Sugathadasa Stadium this week. Girls and boys in ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ Divisions competed over a month and there were some thrilling encounters.St. Joseph’s College, Darley Road and Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya cruised to victory in the ‘A’ Division final. While St. Joseph’s beat Royal College in the boys’ final, HFC overcame Mahamaya College, Kandy. Both teams cruised to victory and were hardly troubled throughout the campaign. Interestingly, both teams are coached by the same individuals with Roshan Randima as Head Coach and Shane Daniel as his deputy. Their teams over the last decade or so have come up with consistent performances and have always remained among the top three.

St. Joseph’s took an early 24-09 lead in the first quarter and although Royal contained them in the second quarter conceding just seven points, they themselves could not score big. Both teams scored 16 points each in the third quarter and Royal matched St. Joseph’s skills in the final quarter but the damage done in the first quarter proved to be costly as Joes won by 16 points with the final score being 68-52.Mahamaya scored 14 points compared to HFC’s 16 in the first quarter in the girls’ final but from thereon HFC were unstoppable winning by a comfortable 31 points. The final score was 70-39.

In the boys’ category, St. Joseph’s captain Shehan Fernando was adjudged the Most Valuable Player while Keith Costa also from St. Joseph’s was declared the Best Defensive Player. Royal’s Yuganan Baskaran was named Best Offensive Plyaer. In the girls’ segment, Onela Dunuwille and Minoli Direkze of HFC emerged as Most Valuable Player and Best Defensive Player respectively. Chithera Samarakoon of Mahamaya was the Best Offensive Player. The tournament was sponsored by Gaja Group. The Group’s CEO Gayath Jayasinghe, a former Sri Lanka basketball player was the Chief Guest.

Continue Reading

Sports

Sri Lanka Athletics to seek private sector support to send team for World Junior Championships

Published

on

Ambagamuwa Central hurdler Dhanuka Dharshana has bettered the World Junior Championship qualifying standard on several occasions.

Junior Nationals Athletics Championships rescheduled to June 7-10

by Reemus Fernando

Sri Lanka Athletics will seek support from the private sector to meet the massive costs involved in sending all athletes reaching qualifying standards for the World Junior Championships which will be held from August 1-6 in Cali, Colombia.The track and field governing body, which met this week to reschedule the Junior National Championship which was postponed due to the curfew imposed on May 9, also discussed ways of finding funds to send all athletes who reach qualifying standards for the World Junior Championships.

Sri Lanka Athletics has been sending all athletes reaching qualifying standards for the World Junior events in recent years. But the massive cost of airfare in the midst of the prevaling economic crisis has made it difficult for the sport’s governing body to bear the full cost involved in sending a strong team.So far nine athletes have reached qualifying standards for the biennial event and there is opportunity for other athletes to reach entry standards for the event when the postponed Junior National Athletics Championship is held from June 7 to 10 at the Sugathadasa Stadium.

“There is a massive cost involved in sending athletes for the Cali event. With the increased airfare it will cost around 1.5 million rupees per athlete. If we opt to send only the top two athletes and those who can find funds by their own it will not be fair by the others who reach qualifying standards. Because of that we will seek private sector support to send the full team,” a senior official of Sri Lanka Athletics told The Island on Friday.

Earlier there were plans to send a pruned down team but a couple of athletes have obtained private sponsorships for their travel compelling athletics officials to find sponsorships for others as well.Of the nine athletes who have reached qualifying standards so far, four are from three schools in Colombo.  At least one athlete from outstations and an athlete from a school in Colombo have received the support of sponsors to meet their expenses during the meet.

“We will request leading private sector firms to support junior athletes. We will also seek the support of friendly sports federations like Sri Lanka Cricket to support us at this difficult moment,” said the official.

Tharushi Karunaratne (800m, 400m), Jayeshi Uththara (400m) and Amesha Hettiarachchi (400m hurdles) in the girls’ category and Sithum Jayasundara (400m), Dhanuka Dharshana (400m hurdles), Kaveesha Bandara (110m hurdles), Pasindu Malshan (triple jump), Hirusha Hashen (long jump) and Rumesh Tharanga  (javelin throw) in the boys’ category are the athletes who have reached qualifying standards for the Cali event. Incidentally, Tharushi Karunaratne and Sithum Jayasundara will be taking part in their second consecutive World Junior Championships after having represented the country at the last edition in Nairobi. Sri Lanka did well to reach the final in the mix relay in Nairobi where they were ranked fifth with a time of 3:26.39 secs.

Junior National Championships from June 7 to 10

The Junior National Athletics Championship which was postponed after the morning session on May 9 will commence from where it stopped on June 7. According to athletics officials the events which could not be completed on May 9 will be held on June 7 and there will not be any changes to the schedule of the next three days.

Continue Reading

Sports

Shoriful ruled out of SL Tests with wrist injury

Published

on

Bangladesh’s injury woes continue as pace bowler Shoriful Islam has now been ruled out of the remainder of the ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka due to a wrist injury. Shoriful is the latest addition to the hosts’ injury list as they earlier lost Taskin Ahmed (shoulder) and Mehedy Hasan (finger).

“Shoriful Islam had a contusion of the right hand while batting. After the fourth day’s play an X-ray was carried out which has revealed a fracture on the base of the 5th metacarpal bone,” physio Bayjedul Islam said in a statement on Thursday.

“Such injuries tend to take around three weeks to heal followed by a couple of week’s rehab. He will not be available to play for four to five weeks.”

Shoriful was retired out on Day 4 after pacer Kasun Rajitha’s short delivery hit him on the gloves. Bangladesh were forced to end their innings at 465 following his injury.

Cricbuzz has learnt that Shoriful is unlikely to be available for the Test series against West Indies as well. Bangladesh will leave on June 6 to take part in the full fledged tour of West Indies, comprising two Tests, three ODIs and as many T20Is.

Meanwhile, the BCB has retained the same squad for the second Test against Sri Lanka that will begin on May 23. The board opted to not name a replacement for Shoriful since they have a big squad to pick from.

“We did not take any replacement for Shoriful as we have got a big squad in hand,” BCB chief selector Minhajul Abedin told Cricbuzz. ‘’We have to see fitness of Hasan Mahmud (who was in discussion as a possible replacement of Shoriful) and though we are not considering him in this series, if he is fit we might pick him for the Bangladesh ‘A’ team tour of West Indies.”

Squad:

Mominul Haque (C), Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim, Litton Kumar Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Nayeem Hasan, Taijul Islam, Syed Khaled Ahmed, Yasir Ali Chowdhury, Quazi Nurul Hasan Sohan, Musaddek Hossain, Ebadot Hossain Chowdhury, Shohidul Islam, Rezaur Rahman Raja.

( Cricbuzz)

Continue Reading

Trending