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Golf Union wants to make a strong showing at Asian Games



Chanaka Perera and Taniya Balasuriya posing with Asst. National Coach Pradeep Kumara at Digana

The Sri Lanka Golf Union has made elaborate plans to complete an exhaustive schedule in the forthcoming months to improve the standard of Golf in the country. Covid -19 did set the proposed programs behind. The Golf Union together with the Ministry of Sport, the National Olympic Committee, and the health authorities have made plans to fast forward the delayed tournaments in the coming months.

The Sri Lanka Golf Union will send two players to participate in the forthcoming Asia Pacific Golf Tournaments for men and women which takes place in Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively. The tournament for men will be held in Dubai from November 7 to 14 whilst the women’s event will be in Abu Dhabi from November 15 to 21.

M.U. Chanaka Perera will tee off in the men’s category whilst Taniya Balasuriya will take part in the women’s. Both golfers have been invited by virtue of their World Amateur Handicap Ranking. Young Vinod Weerasinghe a rising star too was invited to participate in the men’s category but due to unforeseen circumstances will not make it to Dubai.

The Golf Union has finalized different squads to be put through a strenuous training schedule in the coming months. The National Squad, Development Squad and Junior Squads will undergo on-course training in addition to physical fitness training under supervision.

“Plans are in place to get both men and women golfers in peak condition by mid-next year to make a strong showing at the Asian Games to be held in Hangzhou, China. Sri Lanka Golf will enter four male and four female golfers to participate in the individual and team events,” a Golf Union press release quoted Michael Perera Magala, President of the Golf Union as having said.

“Plans are underway to hold Sri Lanka’s ranking Tournaments in November and December 2021 and conclude the prestigious 132 Sri Lanka Amateur Championship and Sri Lanka Open in January 2022. We are in the process of moving to a unified and worldwide accepted World Handicapping System for all golfers with the support of all Golf Clubs in Sri Lanka. This will be a beneficial move to all golfers in Sri Lanka,” a Golf Union press release quoted Ranil Pieris, Vice President of Sri Lanka Golf as having said.

The lack of golf courses has been a setback for young golfers to take up the game though Sri Lankans have been gifted with high hand/eye coordination. Led by the Royal Colombo Golf Club and ably supported by Nuwara Eliya Golf Club, Victoria Golf Club- Digana, Eagles Golf Club- Trinco, and Shangri-La Golf Club- Hambantota, have all been supportive in their willing service to the Golf Union by extending their facilities to improve Golf in Sri Lanka.

According to the Golf Union, women’s golf is in an upward trend with many young players taking to the game ably supported by Anouk Chitty. “We intend making a strong showing at the forthcoming Asian Games,” Chitty was quoted having said.

Junior Golf is an area that has been the focal point and Niloo Jayetileke has her sights set on drawing many new talented players to the game. “Royal and Ancient in Scotland have a support programme which has been beneficial in this area. Five tournaments are being held for Juniors each year and plans are underway to tie up with an Indian Golfing Group to extend this programme to reach a greater height,” Niloo Jayetileke was quoted having said.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Sport has been approached to build a Golf Range for the SLGU. Led by President Michael Perera Magala, Ranil Pieris, Air Chief Marshal Harsha Abeywickrema, Sudath Getawakanda, Lal Wickrematunge, and the Council members are laying the foundation in popularizing golf in Sri Lanka.

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Nine year old Mazel Alegado has Olympic dream in sight




Mazel Alegado, aged nine, qualified for the women's park final at the 2023 Asian Games (pic BBC)

At nine years old, skateboarder Mazel Alegado has the world at her feet.

The youngest member of the Philippines team at the Asian Games – and thought to be the youngest competitor at the entire event – finished seventh in the women’s park final in Hangzhou, China.

Now the United States resident has her eyes set on reaching the Olympic Games. 

“I’m really proud that I got here. My dream is to be a pro skater. I would love to go to the Olympics,” she told Japan Today. “I was so excited you know, because I was able to skate Asian Games. It was so fun,” she added.

She was inspired to take up the sport after watching her brother. “We were at my cousin’s house and I saw my brother skateboarding and I was like, ‘Can I try? Can I try?’ I got on the board and just loved it,” she said.

Alegado’s best score in the final came in her first run, when she posted 52.85.

Japanese skateboarder Hinano Kusaki, 15, claimed gold while China bagged silver and bronze with, respectively, 20-year-old Li Yujuan and Mao Jiasi, 15, finishing on the podium.

Skateboarding has attracted some of sport’s youngest athletes. Britain’s Sky Brown turned 13 shortly before claiming bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics while silver medallist Kokona Hiraki was 12.


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Gymnastics Ireland ‘deeply sorry’ to Black girl ignored at medal ceremony




US seven-time Olympic medallist Simone Biles said the video 'broke my heart' (pic Aljazeera)

Ireland’s gymnastics federation has apologised for the allegedly racist treatment of a young Black gymnast who was skipped by an official handing out medals to a row of girls last year.

Footage posted on social media last week of an event in Dublin in 2022 showed the official appearing to snub the girl, the only Black gymnast in the lineup, who looked bewildered.

“We would like to unreservedly apologise to the gymnast and her family for the upset that has been caused by the incident,”  Gymnastics Ireland (GI) said in a statement posted on its website on Monday.

“What happened on the day should not have happened and for that we are deeply sorry,” said the statement.  “We would like to make it absolutely clear that [GI] condemns any form of racism whatsoever,” it added.

The video posted on Friday soon went viral and drew widespread condemnation of the girl’s treatment, including from star United States gymnast Simone Biles, who said she sent the girl a private video message of support.

“It broke my heart to see the video. There is no room for racism in any sport or at all,” Biles, a seven-time Olympic medalist, said Saturday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Biles’s US teammate Jordan Chiles described the incident as “beyond hurtful on so many levels”.

In an earlier statement, GI defended the official who it said had made an “honest error” but acknowledged it received a complaint from the parents of the girl alleging racist behaviour in March 2022.

GI said an independent mediation had led to a “resolution agreed by both parties in August 2023”, that the official had written an apology and that the girl had received her medal after the ceremony.

However, the Irish Independent on Sunday anonymously quoted the girl’s mother as saying GI had failed to publicly apologise and that she would take the issue to the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation in Switzerland.


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How home teams are thriving in ICC Men’s Cricket World Cups



MS Dhoni hit the winning six in the final against Sri Lanka.

Pressure or advantage? The conundrum that faces the hosts of each ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.

If the last three editions are anything to go by, it is an advantage to be playing at home.

But, up until the 2011 edition, only one team had ever won as hosts, and that was Sri Lanka in 1996 when they co-hosted with India and Pakistan.

Even then, they only played two games at home, winning the final in Lahore.

Since 2011, a home team has triumphed every time with India setting the trend which Australia and, most recently, England followed.

Each team had unique challenges to face en route to the trophy, but what worked for the home teams?


India’s legends lead them home

Legends were made, celebrated, and inspired at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2011.

The final on 2 April was the most memorable day for the great Sachin Tendulkar as he was finally part of a World Cup-winning squad.

He made only 18 runs in the showpiece, but he had stewarded India there with a Player-of-the-Match- performance in the semi-final against Pakistan.

Yuvraj Singh had also done his job, winning Player of the Tournament after piling up 362 runs and 15 wickets, doing so without knowing he was suffering from cancer.

Each player was facing a personal Everest as well as the collective one of attempting to win a World Cup under what felt like insurmountable pressure.

To prepare, they spoke with Mike Horn, an adventurer who became the first person to solo circumnavigate the Equator, who put into perspective the challenge ahead of them.

The first challenge they faced was opening the tournament against Bangladesh, Virender Sehwag began with a boundary and that is how the tournament ended – MS Dhoni hit the winning six in the final against Sri Lanka.

The captain had moved himself above usual No.5 Singh, the change paying off as he then compiled 91 runs from 79 balls to see India to a second title and send the nation into ecstasy.

Doing so, the pressure was released and the curse of the hosts winning on home soil was broken.


Australia surge to fifth trophy

The most successful team in the competition’s history, Australia were never going to be able to fly under the radar, and their performances in 2015 certainly caught the eye.

The World Cup started on a positive note when they beat their old rivals England by 111 runs at the MCG.

But spirits were dampened by a washout against Bangladesh before New Zealand took a low-scoring thriller at Eden Park, winning by just one wicket.

And hell hath no fury like an Aussie team beaten.

Michael Clarke’s men responded by putting on the highest score at a World Cup, crashing 417 against Afghanistan in a 275-run win.

Comfortable defeats of Sri Lanka and Scotland followed before Australia brushed aside Pakistan and India in the knockouts.

The latter became the sixth team to be bowled out by Australia in the tournament as they were reduced to 233 runs, 96 short of their target.

The same fate befell New Zealand in the final in Melbourne as they were all out for 183 which Australia chased down with 101 balls to spare.

The experience of previous wins outweighed the pressure of home expectations, not something England could say four years later.


Four years in the making

England had never won the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup before and had been burned by a disastrous campaign in 2015.

But from the ashes grew new life, as captain Eoin Morgan led a rebuild with one aim, to win the World Cup on home soil.

There was time for beauty amid the ruthlessness, Ben Stokes’ stunning catch in the opener against South Africa firing up the tournament.

Morgan broke records as he blasted the most sixes in an innings against Afghanistan before Australia were blown away in the semi-finals.

The final at Lord’s was not about beauty or ruthlessness but as England attempted to do what had previously been impossible for them, they simply just needed to be in the contest.

The game ebbed and flowed as any good one-day match should before reaching a crescendo with a Super Over.

It almost had to be like this, the team who had set out to revolutionize the game, winning the World Cup in a way it had never been won before.

Now the tournament returns to the place where the trend started, and with India acting as solo hosts for the first time, all eyes will truly be on them.

But as 2011 showed, that is how they like it.

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