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Athletics Association confirms championship dates as Gnanam Foundation pledge financial support

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by Reemus Fernando

The Athletics Association of Sri Lanka confirmed dates for the pandemic hampered competitions for the year 2020 as Gnanam Foundation, an NGO, pledged financial support for the country’s premier Olympic sport which was struggling without a strong sponsor during the last few years.

AASL was planning to conduct several selection events to form training pools ahead of a packed international calender when the covid 19 pandemic derailed their plans in March.

Although most of the leading athletes have commenced training the much needed competitions remained doubtful due to prevailing health risks.

The AASL said that a selection trial, the first competition since March, will be held from October 23 to 25 at the Sugathadasa Stadium, while the National Championship has been scheduled for December for the Olympic hopefuls to improve their World Athletics rankings and to attempt qualifying standards for the postponed Tokyo event which will be held in July and August in 2021.

While the selection trial will be an open event, the National Championship in December will be for the highest ranked athletes.

“Only those who perform well during the trial meet will be eligible to compete at the National Championship, Major General (rtd.) Palitha Fernando, the president of the AASL told media at the briefing to announce the Gnanam Foundation’s sponsorship on Wednesday.

He said that the dates for the Junior National Championship will be finalised after taking in to consideration the scheduling of the O/L exam. The Ministry of Education has restricted sports participation of school athletes during the second term.

Gnanam Foundation has granted rupees ten million which will be utilized to athletes’ development and equipment and kits.

Fernando who has long been advocating the importance of foreign expertise to train local athletes said that the AASL is planing to obtain the services of Finland throwing coach Petteri Piironen to train local throwers. Piironen trained Sachith Maduranga and Nadeeka Lakmali before they won medals at Asian Athletics Championships.

At present some of country’s leading athletes are trained by Cuban coaches Luis Miranda (jumps) and Sergio Manuel Rodrigues (sprints) and Kenyan long distance coach Dan Muchoki.

 



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Prabath Jayasuriya crowned ICC Player of the Month for July

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Sri Lanka’s newest spin sensation Prabath Jayasuriya and England’s Emma Lamb, who starred atop the order in her side’s whitewash series victory over South Africa were announced as the winners of the ICC Player of the Month awards for July 2022. The International Cricket Council (ICC) made the announcement yesterday.

Jayasuriya claims the ICC Men’s Player of the Month award on the back of an outstanding series of displays with the ball, where his remarkable haul of wickets sees him crowned ahead of rival contenders England’s Jonny Bairstow – who won the Men’s award back in June – and French youngster Gustav McKeon.

During Sri Lanka’s three Test matches on home soil in July, Jayasuriya stepped into the squad for the first time in the longest format and made an immediate impact against formidable opponents. After his side was humbled in the first Test defeat to Australia, the spinner celebrated a prolific Test debut, taking six for 118 in the first innings, and following up with an even more impressive six for 59 in the second to claim the final Test and draw the series. Jayasuriya kept his momentum going into the two-Test showdown against Pakistan later in the month, taking seventeen wickets across the series and ending July with staggering figures of 29 wickets at an average of 20.37.

On being named the ICC Men’s Player of the Month, Jayasuriya said: ‘’I am delighted with this announcement, and wish to thank the fans for voting me as the ICC Men’s Player of the Month. Certainly it has been an incredible month for me, as I made the Test debut, and also got the opportunity to contribute for my team to level the Test series played against Australia and Pakistan.”

“I take this opportunity to thank my fans, teammates, coaches, family and friends for helping my journey, and thrilled with what I am experiencing at this moment in my life.”

Irfan Pathan, former India international and ICC Player of the Month voting panel member, said: “Being a newcomer to Test cricket and starting with two five-wicket hauls in your first match is extraordinary, and it’s all the more impressive against a team like Australia. A tally of 29 wickets in just three Tests is too good to be overlooked and for that, he is my ICC Men’s Player of the Month.”

Emma Lamb was voted the ICC Women’s Player of the Month for July following her thrilling start to life opening the batting in England’s victorious ODI series victory over South Africa. Lamb consistently laid the foundations for her side to claim victory in each of the three matches, with her most notable contribution coming in the first match in Northampton.

Her outstanding 102 in which she displayed a wide array of classy stroke play set her on course for a stellar month, and she followed up this milestone by posting two further half-centuries to strengthen her credentials as a supremely talented top order batter, with a very bright future ahead.

On winning the ICC Women’s Player of the Month award for July, Lamb commented: “It’s very exciting to have been awarded the ICC Women’s Player of the Month award for July. I’m very happy to have earned my spot at the top of the order in the Test and ODI team and it’s been brilliant to be able to score some runs and help the team win.

“Everyone in the squad contributed to our multi-format series win against South Africa so I just want to keep scoring runs for the team – I feel very lucky that my performances across the last month have been rewarded and I hope to carry on my good form.”

Lamb secures the ICC Women’s Player of the Month award at the first time of asking, overcoming fellow nominees; England’s Nat Sciver and India’s Renuka Singh.

Fans can continue to vote every month for their favourite male and female cricketers across all formats of international cricket as part of the ICC Player of the Month initiative by registering at www.icc-cricket.com/awards.

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Sri Lanka off to great start

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Davis Cup

Yashitha de Silva, Harshana Godamanne and doubles pair Thehan Wejemanne and Chathurya Nilaweera gave hosts a robust start to their Davis Cup campaign as they beat Bangladesh 3-0 in the opening encounter at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Monday.

The seven nation event started yesterday with the hosts taking on Bangladesh in a Group A encounter. The other team in group A is Kyrgyzstan.

In the first singles match De Silva beat Ranjan Ram 6-3, 6-0, before Godamanne registered 6-1, 6-3 win against Rubel Hossain in the second singles match.

In the doubles match Wijemanne and Nilaweera beat Kawsar Ali and MD Rana 6-0, 6-1.

Sri Lanka will next meet Kyrgyzstan on August 11. The tournament will conclude on August 13.

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Troubles not over for junior athletics team

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by Reemus Fernando

A girl and two boys of Sri Lanka’s junior track and field team have tested positive for Covid 19 prior to their departure to Sri Lanka after the conclusion of the World Junior Athletics Championships in Cali, Colombia on Sunday.

The team of seven which endured many difficulties before leaving for Colombia did well during the World Junior Championships with four athletes advancing from the first round and two producing national junior records. Now with part of the team returning positive results for Covid 19 they will have to undergo seven days of mandatory quarantine.

Sri Lanka Athletics sources said that Susantha Fernando, the manager on tour was remaining in Colombia to accompany the athletes undergoing week long isolation, while team coach Badra Gunawardena, the female official in the team was on her way home.

A source close athletics said that Gunawardena’s return without staying with the team would likely to cause trouble as Ministry of Education protocols require a female official to stay with the team when there are school girls in teams.

Sources also confirmed that four athletes who left Colombia on Sunday were not accompanied by an official. The four school athletes were to be joined by coach Gunawardena in Panama, their first transit.

The team remained uncertain of their participation in the World Junior Championship until the eleventh hour due to lack of funds. After media reported their plight sports authorities intervened. However undue delays in obtaining visas and unavailability of air tickets made officials to cancel the tour before a media backlash forced officials to make eleventh hour interventions to take the tour back on track.

But the eleventh hour intervention and flight delays meant that two athletes missed their pet events after arriving late in Cali.

However of the six athletes who took part in the championships four advanced from the first round and three reached personal best performances. Two athletes, javelin thrower Rumesh Tharanga and 400 metres hurdler Dhanuka Dharshana established national junior records. Triple jumper and Pasindu Malshan and thrower Tharanga reached the finals of their respective events.

With three athletes and an official having to stay seven days in isolation the team will have to bear additional costs.

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