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Cherished sporting milestones of Air Force



70 Years of Sri Lanka Air Force Sports

During the 70 years of existence, the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) has produced some outstanding sportsmen and women who have brought immense glory to the country. The notable feature of most of these great men and women is that they have rendered their service not only in the field of sports but also in their own profession in the SLAF. The following achievements of these sports personnel have been written in gold in the annals of the SLAF.

First National Record by an Airman

Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Nagalingam Balasubramanium became the first airman to create a National Record, when he cleared a distance of 48 and 1/2 feet (14.64) at the triple jump event at the Quadrangle Athletics Meet on 28 November 1959.

Asian Games Representation

LAC Lakshman de Alwis became the first sportsman from Air Force to represent the country at the Asian Games, when he represented Ceylon at the 4th Asian Games held in Jakarta in 1962 in 200m and 400m events. De Alwis was the Ceylonese champion in 200m and 400m in early 1960s and established the national record for 400m (49.8) on 19 July 1964.

“Jets” relay team equals the National Record in 4 x 200m relay

Air Force relay team popularly known as the Jets Team equaled the National Record in 4 x 200m relay event on 7 September 1963 with a timing of 1:30.2 seconds. Earlier the Ace Athletic Club had established the national record. LAC Lakshman De Alwis, LAC RAC Hubert, LACG George and LAC Cristy Fernando represented the relay team.

LAC Maurice Coomerawel completes a hat-trick of wins at the prestigious Tour de Lanka Cycle Race

Coomarawel who represented the country at the Rome Olympics in 1960 had the distinction of winning the prestigious Tour de Lanka on four occasions. He initially won the race in 1960. Then he went on to complete a hat-trick of victories, by winning the Tour de Lanka in 1965, 1966 and 1967.

LAC GAS Gunasinghe represents the country in Boxing at the Commonwealth Games in Jamaica in 1966

Champion boxer LAC GAS Gunasinghe became the only Ceylonese Boxer to participate at the 8th Commonwealth Games in Jamaica in 1966. He represented the country at the International contest against India and Pakistan in 1963 and won a silver medal in the meet against Pakistan. He won a silver medal at Singapore Sports Festival held in August 1965 as well.

SLAF Soccer Team win the prestigious FA Cup in 1975 and 1986

The SLAF Soccer team was a leading soccer team in the country in 1970s and 1980s and won many major championships on offer. They won the FA Cup in 1975 and 1986 whilst producing champion players in the caliber of Mahinda Aluwihare, Sumith Walpola, Mahinda Palitha and Sampath Perera. In 1975, SLAF won the FA Cup under LAC Edmand Silva and Corporal SC Kapukotuwa led the team to victory in 1986.

Sergeant Wijaya Nimal Perera wins a bronze at the 8th Asian Games

Sergeant Wijaya Nimal Perera was an outstanding boxer produced by the SLAF. He won a bronze medal in Fly Weight Category at the 8th Asian Games in Thailand in 1978. He is the first SLAF athlete to have won a medal at the Asian Games. In 1974, Perera was selected as the Best Boxer at National Boxing Championship, Defence Service Boxing Meet, Clifford Cup, Layton Cup and Albert Perera Memorial Cup.

Squadron Leader Susil Fernando became the first Test Cricketer to be produced by the SLAF

SqnLdr Susil Fernando became the first Test cricketer to be produced by the SLAF, when he made his Test debut on 4 March 1983 against New Zealand as the 17th Test player of the country. He represented the country in five Tests. SqnLdr Fernando made his ODI debut in 1983 and played in seven ODIs from 1983 to 1984. The highlight of his career was the representation of the country at the Cricket World Cup in 1983 held in England.

SLAF Rugby Team wins the prestigious Clifford Cup in 1986

The finest moment of SLAF Rugby was the winning of Clifford Cup in 1986 under Corporal Lakshman Caldera beating a star-studded Police SC 10 -8. In the Quarter Finals, SLAF beat Navy SC 44 -10 and beat CH & FC 8-4 in the semifinal. A try in the extra time by Flying Officer Harsha Fernando helped Air Force SC beat CH & FC after the scores stood at 4-all at full time. Air Force SC confronted the mighty Policemen in the final on 16 August 1986 and scored a sensational 10-8 win to clinch club rugby’s richest prize – the Clifford Cup. Second row forward 5193 Corporal Lofty Perera (jnr) scored the solitary try for the Airmen, while 4450 Corporal Tony Wimalasuriya fired across two penalties.

Group Captain TB Marmbe represents Sri Lanka at three Rugby Asiads and captains the national Team at a match in Rugby Asiad in 1988

Group Captain Tikiri Marambe was one of the best Rugby players to represent SLAF. A Trinity Lion, he represented the national rugby team from 1982 to 1988 and captained the team against Korea at the Rugby Asiad in 1988. GpCapt Marambe, who represented Sri Lanka at three Rugby Asiad’s during the period is considered as one of the best scrum halfs produced by the country.

Group Captain Nalin de Silva excels for National 7s Rugby Team that wins the “Bowl” Trophy at the Hong Kong 7s in 1984

Known as the Iron man in Rugby circles, GpCapt de Silva represented the National Rugby team from 1982 to 1987 and was the Vice-Captain at the 8th Asian Rugby Asiad held in Singapore in 1982. He represented the National team at the Rugby Asiad held in Japan in 1984 and toured to Wales in 1984. GpCapt de Silva was a key member of National Sevens Team that won the “Bowl” Trophy at the Hong Kong 7s in 1984.

Corporal Nimali Liyanarchchi wins silver in 800m at the CISM World Military Games in China in 2019

The former national champion in the 800m and 1500m, Nimali Liyanarchchi brought immense glory to Sri Lanka and SLAF through her record breaking performances. During the 7th edition of the World Military Games, that was held in Wuhan, China in October 2019, Cpl Nimali Liyanarchchi won the silver medal in women’s 800m thus became the first silver medalist produced by Sri Lanka Defence Services at the World Military Games.

Air Cdre Padman de Costa

Former Secretary Air Force Sports Council and Defence Services Sports Board

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Decision on sexual assault case against Danushka Gunathilaka next Thursday (28)




Danushka Gunathilaka is accused of "stealthing" a woman he met online (pic ABC Net)

The hearing of the sexual assault case against Sri Lankan cricketer Danushka Gunathilake before the New South Wales District Court concluded today (21) and Judge Sarah Huggett will hand down her decision next Thursday (28).

(ABC net)

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Selectors make ‘U’ turn after requesting Shanaka to step down



Dasun Shanaka has been retained as Sri Lanka’s ODI captain.  

by Rex Clementine

The national selection panel that met yesterday made a complete ‘U’ turn having earlier requested captain Dasun Shanaka to step down in the lead up to next month’s ICC Cricket World Cup to be played in India. After Sri Lanka’s horrendous show in the Asia Cup final, where the team was bowled out for 50 runs, their lowest total at home, someone had to be scapegoated and Dasun Shanaka fitted the selectors’ bill.

The captain had been informed to step down so that a new captain could be appointed and accordingly Kusal Mendis was tipped to take over. Team management had endorsed Mendis highlighting him as the player who contributed most during team meetings. He was anyway deputy to Dasun in ODIs.

Although Dasun had expressed his willingness to step aside so that the selectors could make the change, the national selection panel decided to retain Dasun following a meeting yesterday.

While a section of the public had wanted the captain gone due to an extended run of poor form with the bat, some others had argued that axing the captain on the verge of an event like the World Cup wasn’t the most sensible move.

Had Dasun stepped down, he was in fear of not finding a place in the team as well as the selectors had wanted the new captain to make the call of having or not having the misfiring ex-captain in the team.

Despite the debacle in the final, Sri Lanka had done well to progress to the finals of the Asia Cup having beaten Afghanistan and Pakistan and Bangladesh twice. There were fears of the team not progressing beyond the first round after the bowling attack was completely depleted with injuries.

Although Dasun has been now retained as the captain, he will be under tremendous pressure to deliver following a string of low scores. Having said that, he was Sri Lanka’s best batter when the national cricket team toured India earlier this month.

Sri Lanka will leave for India next week and will be based in Guwahati where they will play two warm-up games against Asian rivals Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Sri Lanka’s first game of the World Cup is against South Africa on the 7th of October in Delhi.

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Arachchige to lead second-string Sri Lanka side at the Asian games



Sahan Arachchige has two ODI caps to his name

Sri Lanka have announced a young squad for the 2023 Asian Games – essentially a Sri Lanka A side – with Sahan Arachchige set to lead the 15-member squad.

Among those with international caps, Ashen Bandara tops the list with 11 white-ball games under his belt. Nuwanidu Fernando and Nuwan Thushara have played four games each, while Arachchige has played two ODIs.

A majority of the team have however appeared in the Lanka Premier League (LPL), so fans may not be completely unfamiliar with some of these names, but this will be a good opportunity to observe them over a more consistent period.

Most of the excitement will arguably surround the batters, with the likes of Lasith Croospulle, Shevon Daniel, Fernando and Arachchige having popped up on the radar during the most recent LPL season.

Croospulle was part of ESPNcricinfo’s LPL 2023 team of the tournament for his 232 runs at an average 33.14, while Daniel too had some exciting cameos opening the innings. At just 19, he also has a first-class double ton to his name.

Fernando meanwhile has the distinction of having played one of the most impactful innings in last year’s LPL, when he scored a 42-ball 63 on a surface all other batters had struggled on. This year as well he compiled an unbeaten 39-ball 56 against Dambulla Aura but wasn’t able to take his side over teh line. As for Arachchige, despite having a subdued LPL, he has impressed in recent games for the Sri Lanka A side, notably notching a pair of centuries against England Lions earlier this year.

In Bandara, Sri Lanka have one of the best fielders in the tournament, while his six ODIs for the national side have already brought about two fifties – his relative experience will hold them in good stead. Rounding out the batting will be wicketkeeper Lahiru Udara, lower-middle order batter Ahan Wickramasinghe and allrounders Lahiru Samarakoon, Nimesh Vimukthi, Ranitha Liyanarachchi, Sachitha Jayathilaka and Ravindu Fernando.

On the fast bowling front, a lot will depend on Thushara. Dubbed podi (little) Malinga due to his slingy action, Thushara has been consistently among the better performers in recent LPL seasons. He makes up for his lack of searing pace with good control and variety. Thushara will be supported by 26-year-old quick Isitha Wijesundara, and allrounders Samarakoon and Liyanarachchi.

In the spin department, Sri Lanka boasts a fair degree of variety. Legspinner Vijayakanth Viyaskanth will the lead the way, having broken into the starting XI of Jaffna Kings – and played a key role in their 2022 championship. Nimesh Vimukthi will share the burden with his slow left-arm orthodox, while Ravindu and Arachchige provide offbreak options. Jayathilaka meanwhile is capable of zippy leg breaks pushed quickly through the air.

Sri Lanka have a direct entry into the Asian Games quarter-finals and play their first game on October 4. All matches will be in the T20 format.

Full squad:

Lasith Croospulle, Shevon Daniel, Ashen Bandara, Sahan Arachchige (capt), Ahan Wickramasinghe, Lahiru Udara (wk), Ravindu Fernando, Ranitha Liyanarachchi, Nuwanidu Fernando, Sachitha Jayatilaka, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth, Nimesh Vimukthi, Lahiru Samarakoon, Nuwan Thushara, Isitha Wijesundera


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