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
Ibrahim 98 trumps Asalanka 91 as Afghanistan go 1-0 up
Powered by a run a ball 98 by Ibrahim Zadran and 55 off 80 balls by Rahmat Shah, Afghanistan registered a six wicket win with 19 balls to spare in the first of the three match ODI series against Sri Lanka played at Sooriyawewa today (02).
Sri Lanka 268 in 50 overs (Pathum Nissanka 38, Charith Asalanka 91, Dhananjaya de Silva 1, Dushan hemantha 22; Fazalhaq Faarooqi 2-58, Fareed Ahmad 2-43) lost to Afghanistan 269/4 in 46.5 overs (Ibrahim Zadran 98, Rahmat Shah 55, Hashmatullah Shahidi 38, Mohammad Nabi 27* ; Kasun Rajitha 2-49) by six wickets
Charith Asalanka 91, Dhananjaya de Silva fifty set Afghanistan 269 in first ODI
Angelo and Dimuth will be crucial moving forward – Dasun
Sri Lanka white ball captain Dasun Shanaka has welcomed the return of seniors Angelo Mathews and Dimuth Karunaratne to the ODI team after they were sidelined with the selectors launching their youth policy two years ago. While Mathews returned to the fea in New Zealand, Karunaratne will feature in the three match ODI series against Afghanistan starting at Suriyawewa today (Friday).
“It’s good to have Angelo and Dimuth back in the squad. Their experience is vital. We already had Angelo in New Zealand and now we have Dimuth adding depth. We looked at a lot of youngsters in the last couple of years and that’s why they missed out. Their presence makes our side stronger now,” Shanaka told journalists.
“This series we are targeting mostly for qualifiers. So, we will use a few combinations to get things right. We are looking to use three quicks for the game,” Shanaka added.
Leg-spinner Dushan Hemantha and quick Matheesha Pathirana are set to make their debuts today. While Pathirana has featured in a T-20I, Hemantha is uncapped. He will come in for Wanindu Hasaranga, who is nursing a foot injury.
Afghanistan themselves have injury concerns with star leg-spinner Rashid Khan ruled out with a lower back injury. He will miss the first two ODIs.
“Rashid has a back issue. So, hoping he recovers quickly. Looks like he will miss the first two games. He is our main bowler. He is our superstar, but it’s important that we keep him fresh for the Asia Cup and World Cup,” Hashmatullah Shahidi, the Afghanistan captain said.
Afghanistan have already qualified for the World Cup and will be using this series as preparation for the game’s showpiece event. Sri Lanka, meanwhile, will try and get their combination right for the World Cup qualifiers.
“This series will be a sort of preparation for us. Conditions in India and Sri Lanka are the same, so we are looking forward for it,” Hashmatullah added.
Sri Lanka Squad:
Dasun Shanaka (Captain), Kusal Mendis (Vice-Captain) (WK), Pathum Nissanka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama (WK), Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Charith Asalanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana, Dushan Hemantha, Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Matheesha Pathirana, Lahiru Kumara, Kasun Rajitha
Hashmatullah Shahidi (Captain), Rahmat Shah (Vice-Captain), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (WK), Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhail (WK), Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujib ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Abdul Rahman, Fazal Haq Farooqi, Farid Ahmad Malik.
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