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An idea to improve track and field performance in schools in Sri Lanka

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It is important for young athletes to take part in running and jumping events when they are in Primary Schools.

by Nagalingam
Ethirveerasingam. Ph.D.

Many of our school athletes have performed well at the national level. Some of them had represented the country. Carl Vayn Geyzel, when studying at Cambridge took part in the high jump in the 1928 Olympic Games representing Great Britain as Ceylon was its colony and not then a member of the IOC. Many athletes took part in the 1948 Olympic Games in London with Duncan White winning Silver Medal in the 400m hurdles. I, as a 17-year-old schoolboy, represented Ceylon at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland. In the 1954 Asian Games in Manila only sprinter June de Krester and I, still a schoolboy, represented Ceylon. Though I was one of the four who established the new Asian Games high jump record I was placed fourth due to more misses.

Recommendation to improve Athletic Performance in Schools

The following recommendations, if implemented, will ensure that future athletes have a fair chance of qualifying to represent Sri Lanka and win medals in the South Asia and the Asian Games.

It is important for young athletes to take part in running and jumping events when they are in Primary Schools.

1. Dual athletic meets between schools in the same Education Zones.

The first three in each event in the Inter-House meets can represent their school to compete against each of the school in their Education Zone. Preferably every weekend or every other weekend. If a weekday is scheduled then the events should be held after school hours. It is best if the Dual meets are held before the District and Provincial meets.

The dual competitions between schools can be similar to one-day Cricket matches once a week. Unlike cricket, Athletic Dual meets can be concluded in half a day. For example, from 1:00pm to 6:00pm. All events will be finals as there will only be 6 competitors (3 from each school) for each of the 10 to 12 events. Athletic tracks marked for the School Inter-house meet can serve for all meetings during the track and field season.

In schools and universities in the USA, there are no speeches or ceremonial presentation of trophies or certificates. Sri Lanka schools can follow similar traditions. The results published by the schools’ website and in the local newspapers will serve as the record of performance and encouragement. The ceremonies after each event or at the end of the meet consume valuable time of students and teachers, spectators, and scarce resources.

Schools in a District or Education Zone can prepare schedule of Dual competitions for ages 13 to 19. At present individuals who are placed in the first three in each of the competition move on to the next level. Those who did not get placed do not get a chance to compete until the next year. Dual athletic meets will give athletes in each school eight to 10 meeting to compete thus increasing their chances of improving their performance.

2. Academic Requirement to Represent the School in Competitions

Currently there are no academic requirements in Sri Lanka for a student to represent the school in sports competitions. In all high schools in the United States student need to maintain a credit pass average to represent their school in any sports. Similar regulation exists in all universities. Such requirement ensures that the student-athlete focus on learning also. All athletes who represent the USA and compete in the Olympic Games are students or graduates of Universities, High Schools, or Community Colleges.

Sri Lanka School Sports Council needs to ensure that students who represent their school in any sports maintain a pass or credit pass average in the previous term or semester to represent their school in the subsequent term or semester. Such requirement will help student-athlete to excel in both.

I hope the National School Sports Council, the Ministry of Education and Provincial Councils will consider the proposed recommendations to improve the standard of school athletes’ academic and sports performance. Such guidance will pave the way for improving athletic performance at the national level.



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Athapaththu, Sri Lanka too strong for Kenya 

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ICC Commonwealth Games Qualifier 2022

Sri Lanka’s spinners restricted Kenya to 87 for six before captain Chamari Athapaththu struck 57 off 29 balls to power Sri Lanka to a nine-wicket win on the third day of the ICC Commonwealth Games Qualifier 2022 at the Kinrara Oval in Kuala Lumpur.

Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bowl in a match they dominated virtually throughout even though their bowlers got off to a shaky start, conceding seven wides in the first three overs.

Sri Lanka’s infielders were just as sharp as in the first game against Scotland that they won by 109 runs. Kavisha Dilhari’s direct hit sent opener Mary Mwangi back to the dugout before Kenya captain Margaret Ngoche was trapped in front by Inoka Ranaweera.

Kavisha Dilhari was introduced into the attack in the eighth over, bowling a maiden, which included the run out of Sharon Juma. This brought Sarah Bhakita to the crease. The powerful right-hander wasted no time, pulling a delivery into deep mid-wicket for four before she launched Ranaweera over her head for six.

Not to be left behind, opener Queentor Abel drove Dilhari against the spin and through the covers for two boundaries in the 14th over. Athapaththu broke the 45-run partnership between Abel and Bhakita, trapping the former in front with the score on 71 after 16 overs. Bhakita departed soon after, miscuing a Dilhari delivery into the hands of Ama Kanchana at mid-wicket.

Sri Lanka only conceded nine runs in the final three overs to restrict the East Africans to 87 for six.

In reply, Sri Lanka were in an aggressive mood right from the first over. Vishmi Gunaratne lofted Lavendah Idambo over mid-on for her first boundary of a run-a-ball knock of 26. Mercyline Ochieng came in for some treatment in the second over as Athapaththu cleared the off side circle twice for a pair of boundaries to get her innings going.

Things would go from bad to worse for Kenya who were helpless in the face of the assault from Athapaththu, who had struck 86 off 45 in Sri Lanka’s earlier win over Scotland. The left-hander flicked Mwangi off her pads for her first of three maximums, taking 16 off the final over of a Powerplay, which yielded 57 runs.

Two overs later, Sarah Bhakita was carted over her head for six by the Sri Lankan skipper before she was swept over the deep mid-wicket boundary off the very next delivery.

With five runs required for victory, Athapaththu was stumped off the bowling of a jubilant Esther Wachira. Sri Lanka, however, had no issues hunting down what remained of the target, winning with 63 balls to spare.

Kenya skipper Margaret Ngoche remained optimistic in spite of the loss.

“We bowled too many extras, but the girls did well. We put up a fight,” she said.

Athapaththu was asked about Dilhari’s development, and she responded by heaping praise on the off spinner.

“Kavisha is one of our main bowlers who we rely on to keep the opposition in check. Today, she flighted the ball and drew the batters to make mistakes. We hope she keeps doing this in the remaining games,” she said.

Athapaththu also took home the Player of the Match award, yet she expects even more from herself going forward in the tournament.

“This is how I always play. By my standards, I’m still not fully satisfied, and I feel I can still tighten up my game. I look forward to the next few games,” she said.

Brief Scores:

Kenya

87/6 in 20 Overs 

Mary Mwangi 33, Sarah Wetoto 29 ; Chamari Athapaththu 1/10

Sri Lanka

89/1 in 9.3 Overs.

Vishmi Gunaratne 26 not out, Chamari Athapaththu 57; Esther Wachira 1/04

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Sri Lanka Under 19s looking to keep unbeaten status intact against hosts

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by Reemus Fernando  

Sri Lanka Under 19s will enter today’s final group ‘D’ encounter almost assured of their quarter-final place and fates of Australia and hosts West Indies in the ICC Under 19 World Cup in their hands. Despite leading the points table in their group the team will look forward to registering a win against the hosts.

“The team will try to enter the quarter-finals unbeaten and will field a team that can counter West Indies’ strengths,” a team official told The Island from St. Kitts yesterday.

Mahinda Halangoda, the manager of Sri Lanka Under 19 team was speaking to The Island after fellow Group ‘D’ team, Australia beat Scotland to remain in contention for a place in the quarter-finals.

“You need to win to avoid looking at net run rates to earn your quarter-final place. The team will not take chances,” Halangoda said.

Sri Lanka will meet hosts as the only unbeaten team in Group ‘D’. While Scotland are out of contention, West Indies will be looking to register a victory to secure a place in the quarter-final in the tournament proper.

Despite Australia’s big win against Scotland on Wednesday giving them a net run-rate boost, they are not assured of qualification. If West Indies beat Sri Lanka in a very close finish, then Australia could be eliminated to the Plate round. If Sri Lanka beat West Indies, Australia will qualify.

Sri Lanka registered a four-wicket win against Australia in their second tournament match on Monday to lead the points table. “No one expected us to beat Australia as they were a strong team, one of the favourites. Dunith Wellalage did really well to guide the team. A victory on Friday will be the ideal way to conclude the group stage,” said Halangoda.

Wellalage picked up his second five-wicket haul of the tournament on Monday before scoring a crucial half-century to lead the side to victory.

The tournament’s decisive phase has seen one of the team’s leading batsmen failing to deliver while a batsman replaced him producing results. Pawan Pathiraja who was the team’s most consistent batsman until the team reached West Indies was dropped after he failed to impress. It would be interesting to see if the team would recall him for the final group match.

Sakuna Liyanage who replaced wicketkeeper-batsman Anjala Bandara did a rescue job in the first match he played scoring a match-defining half-century. Liyanage also kept wickets for Sri Lanka as both wicketkeepers were not fit to play during the initial stages. Liyanage’s form has seen him retain his place despite Bandara returning to the match against Australia.

Sri Lanka banked on spinners to earn results in this World Cup and it would be interesting to note how the team from the land of legendary fast bowlers would take the final group encounter.

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Rumesh faults bowlers, says nothing wrong with batting strategy

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With left-handers Sean Williams and Craig Ervine being thorns in Sri Lankan flesh, Sri Lanka are pondering roping in off-spinner Ramesh Mendis for the series decider today at Pallekele. Here coach Rumesh Ratnayake is seen having a close eye at Mendis. Image courtesy: SLC.

Rex Clementine at Pallekele

Sri Lanka’s interim coach and one of cricket’s most amiable guys Rumesh Ratnayake admitted that there were a few grey areas in the team’s bowling in the first two ODIs. Zimbabwe nearly scored 300 runs in the first game and although the hosts chased down the target, when the tourists crossed the 300 barrier on Tuesday, Sri Lanka faulted. The series is squared at 1-1 and today’s third and final ODI will decide the outcome of the series.

“We can’t afford to give away 300 runs. The maximum we can give away is 260. In the last two days we have been trying to fix that. Hopefully we will fix it in the next game,” Ratnayake told journalists.

The team’s strategy of playing three all-rounders and relying on just four specialist batsmen has been criticized heavily, but Ratnayake endorsed the strategy. “Composition of the side is the best we can have at the moment. We don’t have eight of our best players for this series. We filled in with guys like Kamindu (Mendis) and all. He’s not regular batting at three. I am sure when recognized players come it would be much better. I feel Kamindu has done his best. After the struggle losing four wickets it was a super fight back. Whoever who comes in we can’t say they are new. We need to have a seamless transition,” added Ratnayake.

Captain Dasun Shanaka has a lot of admirers for bringing the team together and getting the most out of his players. Tactically, however, he’s no Ian Chappell or M.S. Dhoni. In the second game, several of his frontline bowlers were underutilized. “Chamika (Karunaratne) had four overs to bowl and we have addressed that issue. Jeffrey (Vandersay) had one over left and Dushmantha (Chameera) had one over left. I hope it won’t happen again. We have now spoken of giving the main bowlers a go.”

As expected, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine have been Sri Lanka’s biggest challenge in the series. While Williams made a century in the first game, Ervine produced a match winning 91 in the second game. Ratnayake added that Sri Lanka needed to target the two key batsmen. “They have two left-handed batsmen and they are the mainstay of their batting. We will try to address the issue tomorrow.”

Does that mean that off-spinner Ramesh Mendis will get a game, “Good idea isn’t it,” Ratnayake said playing his cards close to his chest, like always.

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