by Reemus Fernando
Sprinters Aruna Dharshan and Amasha de Silva produced thrilling performances but witnessing the former’s heroics in the 400 metres final will not be a possibility today after the Artillery Regiment athlete had to pull out through injury in the semi-finals on day four of the Army Athletics Championships at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Thursday.
Amasha established a new meet record in the women’s 200 metres after emerging sprinter Medhani Jayamanne’s late surge produced a photo finish to stop the clock at 24.05 seconds. The winner and the runner up were separated by one hundredth of a second.
Dharshana announced his return to form at this Army Championships producing a number of notable performances including record breaking feats in relays. He had the men’s 200 metres title under his belt yesterday before a hamstring injury forced him out of competition in the 400 metres semi-finals. However, by the time Dharshana pulled out, his regiment was leading the men’s competition with 214 points. Formidable SLEME were trailing in the second place with 171 points.
The day commenced with Nilani Ratnayake bagging her second individual gold as she clocked 16:32.47 seconds to win the 5,000 metres. The corresponding men’s event was won by V. Vaksan who returned a time of 14:41.05 seconds to finish ahead of R.M.S. Pushpakumara.
Dilshi Kumarasinghe had it easy in the 800 metres and was hardly challenged during the entire race. She returned a time of 2:06.73 seconds. Emerging middle distance runner Shanika Lakshani finished second in a time of 2:09.22 seconds.
Harsha Karunaratne ran a tactically slower first lap in the men’s 800 metres before sprinting to victory in the last 100 metres as he edged out Asian Championship (2019) participant Rusiru Chathuranga to win in a time of 1:51.06 seconds.
Experienced campaigner Sanjaya Jayasinghe won the gold in the men’s triple jump with a feat of 15.71 metres.
In the women’s 400 metres hurdles G.A.S. Dulani clocked 61.49 seconds to win after leading contender Kaushalya Madushani was disqualified for a foul start. In the men’s event Asitha Rathnasena edged out D.K. Vidhuranga in the last few metres. He was the second to clear the last hurdle but managed to pip Viduranga to second place as he stopped the clock at 52.35 seconds.
The women’s shot put gold was won by P.H. Sewwandi (10.74m) while the heptathlon felt the absence of Lakshika Sugandhi as the gold went to a total of 2051 points (S.A. Gimhani).
The Decathlon was won by M.I.M. Asan who aggregated 6892 points to beat national record holder Ajith Karunathilaka to the second place.
Danushka Gunathilaka found not guilty in sexual assault trial
Sri Lanka batter Danushka Gunathilaka has been found not guilty of sexually assaulting a Tinder date through the act of “stealthing”.Judge Sarah Huggett acquitted the 32-year-old as he sat at Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court on Thursday listening to the decision. He said he was looking forward to returning to playing after his acquittal.
“The evidence establishes that there was no opportunity for the accused to remove the condom during intercourse because that intercourse was continuous,” the judge said in handing down the verdict.
Judge Huggett found the complainant, who cannot be legally named, appeared to be an intelligent, calm and responsive witness who did not deliberately give false evidence.
However, at times the woman gave the impression she was “motivated by a desire to paint the cricketer in an unfavourable light”, the judge said.
“I find that the evidence regarding the complaint far from supports the complainant. Rather it undermines the reliability of her evidence.”
The cricketer’s defence team signalled he will apply for the Crown to pay his legal costs of defending the allegation.Outside court, Gunathilaka thanked his lawyers, parents and others who supported him during what he described as a very hard 11 months.
“I’m happy my life is normal again,” he said. “I can’t wait to go back and play cricket.”
Gunathilaka and the woman matched on the dating app and met for drinks at Opera Bar in November 2022 before having pizza together in the Sydney CBD and then catching a ferry to the woman’s eastern suburbs home.
Police initially brought four charges against Gunathilaka, who was arrested at the Hyatt Regency hours before the Sri Lankan cricket team was due to fly out of the country. Prosecutors later dropped three of those charges.
In statements to police and the court, the woman accused the batsman of various acts of aggression and violence such as slapping her buttocks, forcefully kissing her and bruising her lips and choking her during sex.There was no suggestion by prosecutors at trial that any of these acts constituted an offence, although the woman in her evidence said the sex was non-consensual.
Gunathilaka always maintained his innocence, pleading not guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent relating to the cricketer’s alleged “stealthing”, or removing his condom during sex without the woman’s consent.
During the judge-alone trial, defence lawyers questioned the credibility of the complainant, claiming her story shifted over time and that she edited her version of events to paint Gunathilaka as an aggressive person.
Judge Huggett also heard evidence from two of the woman’s friends who described her as fragile and distraught the day after the cricketer attended her home.Police officers who spoke to the woman were also questioned about the way they handled the case, including omitting crucial details, throwing out notes and potentially contaminating witnesses.
Judge Huggett on Thursday described the conduct of police in prosecuting Gunathilaka as “very concerning” and “far from satisfactory”.
Gunathilaka has been on bail during the trial but was unable to play international cricket or return to his hometown of Colombo.
Cheering Indian crowds welcome Pakistan team before ICC Cricket World Cup
The Pakistan cricket team has been greeted with warm applause and loud cheers by hundreds of Indian fans upon its arrival before the ICC World Cup 2023, which starts on October 5.
The contingent landed at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad late on Wednesday and was given a raucous welcome by local fans who had lined up to catch a glimpse of the cricket stars from across the border.
Videos posted by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on X, formerly Twitter, showed fans taking photographs with their phones and shouting the Pakistani players’ names to catch their attention as the squad walked past them inside the terminal.
Bigger crowds awaited the players outside the terminal and along their route out of the airport.
They let out loud cheers for Pakistan’s captain and star batter Babar Azam when he smiled and waved back while boarding the team’s bus.
Danushka Gunathilaka found not guilty
Sri Lankan cricketer Danushka Gunathilaka has been found not guilty of sexual intercourse without consent following an accusation of “stealthing” involving a Tinder date in Sydney.
The 32-year-old was arrested in November while in Australia for the T-20 World Cup, after he went for drinks with a woman near the Opera House.
He had chatted online for several days and then had dinner with the woman, who can’t be identified for legal reasons, before being invited back to her eastern suburbs home, the NSW District Court heard.
The Crown’s case was that he removed a condom during intercourse without the woman’s knowledge when she had consented only to protected sex.
The complainant told the court she did not see the batsman remove the condom, but saw it on the floor shortly after the intercourse stopped.
Judge Sarah Huggett today found evidence about the “genesis” of the woman’s complaint undermined the reliability of her evidence. The judge said the woman had given different accounts in her two statements; the second, given in April this year, went into further detail about the issue of ‘stealthing’ and added that the complainant did not have a “clear memory” of what happened around the time she saw the condom on the floor.
“The evidence establishes there was no opportunity for the accused to remove the condom during the intercourse because that intercourse was continuous,” she said.
Judge Huggett considered the woman’s first conversations with two close friends, which seemed to frame the complaint in terms of the roughness of the sexual activity.
Gunathilaka’s defence counsel argued the woman lied, gave self-serving evidence and appeared to not remember parts of the night that were inconsistent with a “narrative” she created, which morphed over time.
Murugan Thangaraj SC told the judge the Crown failed to establish the woman’s reliability and highlighted what he said were inconsistencies and implausibility in her version of events.
He said it was “completely illogical” to claim she felt ambushed before lighting candles in her bedroom, effectively setting it up for “a romantic sexual liaison”.
In court, the woman alleged Mr Gunathilaka kissed her “forcefully” on the way home and on her couch, where she felt “ambushed” before moving to the bedroom.
She further alleged he choked her three times during sex, leaving her fearful for her life, and ignored requests to go slow.
Judge Huggett found the woman was an “intelligent witness who gave evidence in a considered way”, and was overall a “calm and responsive” witness.
But the judge said there were times when it appeared the complainant was motivated by a desire to paint the accused in an unfavourable light.
In his police interview, Mr Gunathilaka said he told her his preference generally was to not use condoms but wanted to on the night because it was their first meeting.
In the interview, the cricketer made mention of there being two condoms because one malfunctioned — which the Crown said was a deliberate mistruth.
But Judge Huggett disagreed, finding that his answers were the result of “confusion, fatigue, a language barrier and possibly memory”.
“I formed the distinct impression he was doing his best to be truthful and assist the police,” she said.
Sitting in the interview room, Gunathilaka told police the woman had organised him a taxi and he kissed her before leaving. “She didn’t even text me, I didn’t text her also,” he said. “And that’s it, then I’m here.”
Gunathilaka has been in Australia on bail since mid-November.
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