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Aruna, Dilshi, Parami among athletes to benefit from World Athletics grant



Sri Lanka Athletics to receive US$ 40,000.00 grant from World Athletics

by Reemus Fernando

Several Asian Junior Athletics Championship medallists are among the top track and field athletes who will benefit from a World Athletics grant, which Sri Lanka Athletics (SLA) is set to receive shortly.

Sri Lanka Athletics is likely to receive the first half of a grant of US$ 40,000.00 from the world governing body soon, for its youth oriented development plan it has prepared targeting international achievements during the next two years.

“Sri Lanka Athletics proposed a development project targeting the next two years to ‘World Athletics’ and have received their support to spearhead the program. We will be receiving the first half of the funds shortly,” a senior official of Sri Lanka Athletics told The Island.

In the development plan, SLA identified the Women’s steeplechase, Men’s and Women’s 4×400 meter relays and the mixed relay as future medal winning disciplines

Apart from the Tokyo Olympics (2021) Sri Lanka are set to participate at several international events within the next two years. The country has the potential to strive for medals at three major international events namely the 2021 Asian Athletics Championship in Hangzhou, China the Asian Games in the same city in 2022 and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022.

The World Athletics grant will help the local governing body to support its athletes financially to meet their nutritional needs and invest in training gear. The grant will also help them during competitions and the governing body to conduct training camps for the selected athletes through to 2022.

The local governing body in its plan had given priority to athletes who excelled at the Asian Junior Athletics Championship in 2018.

Asian Junior Athletics Championship medallist and 400 meters Championship record holder Aruna Dharshana and Youth Olympic medallist Parami Wasanthi are on top of the list of beneficiaries Sri Lanka Athletics has identified.

Dharshana clocked a record setting 45.79 seconds to win the gold medal at the Junior Asian event in Gifu, Japan in 2018. He has been dominating the senior Men’s event ever since and the silver medalist of the 2018 event, Pasindu Kodikara too is among the athletes picked. St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa sprinter Navishka Sandesh who won the silver medal at the Asian Youth Athletics Championship in Hongkong last year is the other 400 meters specialist.

Dilshi Kumarasinghe, the golden girl of the last South Asian Games, was also a winner at the last Asian Junior event. The former Ratnayake Central athlete clinched the silver in the Women’s 400 meters and clocked a personal best of 2:04.53 seconds to settle for bronze in the 800 meters. She also won a bronze in the 4×400 meters.

Parami Wasanthi who won the gold medal in the Women’s 3,000 meters Steeplechase in Hongkong and followed it up with the bronze at the Youth Olympics together with her training partner Ashmika Herath are in the development program as steeplechase specialists.

Among the athletes who have already been selected, the women’s 400 meters specialist Nadeesha Ramanayake is the only one who is not in that age category. She was part of the team that established a new Sri Lanka record in the Women’s 4×400 meters at the Asian Athletics Championship in Doha in 2019.

The senior official of Sri Lanka Athletics said that they were preparing to expand that team after reviewing the strengths of athletes at the National Trial. The National Trial and all track and field events scheduled for the last few months of the year were canceled or postponed due to the outbreak of Covid 19.

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Djokovic sets up Alcaraz rematch in Wimbledon final




Novak Djokovic is trying to match Roger Federer's total of eight Wimbledon titles [BBC]

Novak Djokovic outclassed Italian underdog Lorenzo Musetti to reach the Wimbledon final and set up a showdown with reigning champion Carlos Alcaraz in a repeat of last year’s final.

The 37-year-old impressed as he stayed on course for a record-equalling eighth men’s singles title at Wimbledon with a 6-4 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 victory on Centre Court.

Musetti, 22, had one chance to get the break back in the final set but sent a forehand into the net and crouched down with his head in his hands, knowing the end was near.  Djokovic made sure his opponent did not get another opportunity.

Under pressure, Musetti sent a shot long before Djokovic walked to the net, knowing he had reached his 37th Grand Slam final and 10th at Wimbledon.

The Serb then moved his racquet over his shoulder and imitated playing a violin, in a gesture aimed at his six-year-old daughter Tara, with television cameras showing her grinning along.

Some fans, however, started booing, thinking Djokovic, who produced the same celebration following his win over Holger Rune in the last 16, was being disrespectful.

Alcaraz beat Djokovic in last year’s showpiece, winning 1-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 3-6 6-4 in a five-set epic, which lasted four hours 42 minutes and is regarded one of the best matches in the tournament’s history.

The pair meet again on Sunday in what could be another amazing chapter in Wimbledon folklore.

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Top ICC official Chris Tetley and Claire Furlong resign




There was a lot of scrutiny of the matches in the US leg of the World Cup, particularly the games held in New York

A couple of senior officials from the International Cricket Council (ICC), who were closely involved in organizing the Twenty20 World Cup in the US and the West Indies, have resigned. On Friday, it came to light that Chris Tetley, the ICC’s Head of Events, and Claire Furlong, the General Manager of Marketing and Communications, have announced their departures from the organization.

The resignations, coming as they did immediately after the conclusion of the World Cup and just about a week ahead of the ICC’s annual conference in Colombo, are believed to be related to the conduct of the championship. However, ICC insiders say the resignations are several months old.

One particular source has claimed that both Tetley and Furlong decided to leave the world body at the end of the last commercial cycle itself but stayed on in view of the Twenty20 World Cup in the US. The source went on to add that the two quit quite some time back but will continue to be with the ICC for a few more months ‘to ensure smooth transition of charge in a crowded event cycle.’ They will also attend the Annual Conference in Colombo from July 19 to 22.

The World Cup in the US, and particularly in New York, was a major project of the ICC and the two officials were closely involved in it. Many members of the ICC were priming to raise the issue of the New York games, which were low-scoring affairs due to the ‘up and down’ nature of the drop-in pitches at the NY stadium, at the Colombo conclave. A key member of the ICC board is learnt to have raised the issue through a letter to the members.

The number of fours and sixes, which are generally expected to be high in numbers in the Twenty20 games, was significantly low in the New York games. The Indian team, the eventual champions, however, did not comment on the nature of the pitches, stating that the conditions were equal for all the participating teams.

The matches in the US were conducted by an entity called T20 World Cup Inc which had built a modular stadium in the Nassau County of New York’s Long Island in record time. The stadium was dismantled immediately after the NY leg of the championship. NY hosted eight of the 16 games allotted to the US.

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Junior National Athletics Championship commences today



The spotlight will fall on the Under 20 age category when the Junior National Athletics Championship commences at Diyagama today as the four-day championship will be the final opportunity to qualify for the World Junior Championships.

Six athletes have already reached entry standards for the world event to be held in Lima, Peru in August.

Sri Lanka Athletics has spelt out the plan to form a team for the costly tour also leaving a space for those athletes who excel in the Under 18 age category. The World Junior Championship is open to Under 20 age category.

The day one programme includes at least ten events in the Under 20 age category.

However, it is not only the athletes in the Under 20 age category that will compete for honours.

The event will be vital for athletes in the Under 16, Under 18 and Under 23 age categories as well.

The Junior National Athletics Championship was earlier scheduled for June but inclement weather forced Sri Lanka Athletics to postpone the event to July. This postponement has affected athletes of some areas as some zonal championships commence during the Junior National.

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