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Herath creates history at Paralympics, Dulan wins bronze



Dinesh Priyantha Herath created history winning country’s first Paralympics gold medal in Tokyo yesterday. Here he celebrates after winning the gold medal of the F46 javelin throw.

Sri Lanka Army’s Dinesh Priyantha Herath created history winning country’s first Paralympics gold medal and proved his coach Pradeep Nishantha’s prediction right as he beat India’s defending champion and world record holder in the men’s F46 javelin throw in Tokyo yesterday.

In his third attempt, Herath hurled the javelin to a distance of 67.79 metres, the furthest a Para athlete in the F46 category had ever thrown in the history. The world and Paralympics record holder Devendra Jhajharia who was attempting to defend his title, also improved on his previous mark but the Indian’s best throw fell more than three metres behind the Sri Lankan’s new mark. The previous World Record mark was 63.97 metres.

While the 35-year-old Herath stormed to gold, the reigning Rio 2016 champion Devendra claimed silver with a throw of 64.35 metres.

Last week in an interview with The Island Pradeep Nishantha, the Gateway College coach who also trained country’s Olympic thrower Sumeda Ranasinghe said that his charges were ready to create history in Tokyo on Monday. And it was exactly what Herath and Dulan Kodithuwakku did. While Herath won country’s first ever gold, Kodithuwakku won a bronze in the F64 javelin throw making it the first time the country had won more than one medal at Paralympics.

For Herath it was the second Paralympics medal. Herath first won bronze at the Rio Paralympics in 2016.

While acknowledging the support given by the Sports Minister, Sports Council, Army Commander, his coach, Paralympics Committee and the officials of his regiment, the Gajaba Regiment athlete dedicated his gold medal to his wife.

Coach Pradeep Nishantha flanked by gold medal winner Dinesh Priyantha Herath (right) and bronze winner Dulan Kodithuwakku (left) after their historic achievement at Tokyo Paralympics on Monday.

“I am very happy because my dream came true. I have no words to describe the feeling,” said Priyantha, who kissed the Sri Lankan flag after claiming victory.

Commenting on his historic feat Army Commander Gen. Shavendra Silva yesterday told The Island that he had an opportunity to meet Sgt. Dinesh Priyantha Herath before the Sri Lankan Paralympics team left for Tokyo. “Javelin thrower Sgt. Herath was confident of securing the Gold at F 46 event,” Gen. Silva, who is also the Chief of Defence Staff said. Responding to a query, Gen. Silva said that Sgt Herath of the Gajaba Regiment was wounded in action on Dec 16, 2008 during fierce fighting in the Kilinochchi area.

Enlisted to the Army on 18 March 2004 as a recruit, Herath completed basic training at Saliyapura. Following the Kilinochchi incident, he took part in Army-organized Para Athletic training events at the GR Regimental HQ. In 2012, he won Gold in Javelin Throw (52 m) in Army Para Athletic Meet, first place in Malaysia’s Para Athletic Meet (52.95 m) in 2012, second place in Germany’s Para Athletic (Qualifying) Meet (53.09m) in 2017 and again the second place in London Para Athletic Meet-2017 recording 59.90m in the same event.

In the F64 javelin throw event held in the afternoon yesterday, Kodithuwakku was in the second place until his final attempt. While India’s Sumit Sumit led from the first throw, Kodituwakku commenced his attempts with a throw of 62.11 metres before making his best feat in the fourth attempt, a throw of 65.61 metres. But he had to settle for bronze medal after Australia’s Burian Michal delivered a throw of 66.29 metres in the final round.

Sri Lanka has participated in every Paralympics since 1996 but until yesterday had won only bronze medals at the quadrennial event. Country won the first Paralympics medal, a bronze when Pradeep Sanjaya was placed third in the T46 400 metres at the 2012 Paralympics in London. Dialog has been the main sponsor of Sri Lanka’s Paralympics teams during the last two decades.


Dhananjaya de Silva returns as Sri Lanka bat first in Hamilton




Dhananjaya de Silva returned to the team (pic Cricinfo)
Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat first, on what captain Dasun Shanaka felt should be a good batting track in the third ODI in Hamilton. New Zealand captain Tom Latham said he would have bowled first anyway, mostly because the dew that forms in the evening can hamper the side bowling second. A damp ball is not only harder for bowlers to grip, it can also skid on off the surface, which tends to aid batters.
Sri Lanka strengthened their batting for this match, having been blasted out for 76 in the first ODI. They brought in Dhananjaya de Silva into the XI, dropping seam bowler Dilshan Madushanka from the side. This means they will field only two frontline seamers, in Kasun Rajitha and Lahiru Kumara, and will need overs from the likes of Chamika Karunaratne, who was in good rhythm in Auckland, Shanaka himself, and de Silva as well.
New Zealand made two changes forced by some of their players departing for the IPL. Glenn Phillips and Finn Allen, both of whom did well in the first ODI, exit the side, and in their place come Tom Blundell and Henry Nicholls. Blundell will open alongside Chad Bowes.
The toss was conducted under blue skies, and the weather is expected to remain good through the course of the encounter.
New Zealand:  Tom Blundell, Chad Bowes, Will Young,  Daryl Mitchell,  Tom Latham (capt.)(wk),  Henry Nicholls,  Rachin Ravindra, Henry Shipley,  Matt Henry,  Ish Sodhi,  Blair Tickner
Sri Lanka: Pathum Nissanka,  Nuwanidu Fernando,  Kusal Mendis (wk),  Angelo Mathews,  Charith Asalanka,  Dhananjaya de Silva,  Dasun Shanaka (capt,),  Chamika Karunaratne,  Wanindu Hasaranga,  Kasun Rajitha,  Lahiru Kumara
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Sri Lanka face in-form hosts in last bid to keep World Cup qualification hopes alive



Sri Lanka need a win to hold on to any hopes of direct qualification for the World Cup

While the rained out second ODI in Christchurch would have no doubt been frustrating for both sets of players, the fact remains that its impact on the grander scheme of things was rather minimal – at least in terms of the World Cup Super League.

Having shared the points, and despite Sri Lanka also being docked a Super League point for a slow over-rate in the first ODI, the equation nevertheless remains the same for the visitors; win the game on Friday and force South Africa and Ireland to win their remaining games this World Cup cycle. Indeed, if both slip up, as improbable as it may be, Sri Lanka might just sneak into the final automatic qualification spots.

But to even entertain that distant notion Sri Lanka must first go out and beat New Zealand in Hamilton – a ground where the hosts have won 10 of their last 12 completed ODIs dating back to 2014. Sri Lanka, though in fairness, are one of the two sides to have beaten the hosts during that period. But of course, that was a far more vintage Sri Lankan line-up with a top order stacked with modern-day greats such as Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

This present Sri Lankan outfit doesn’t quite boast the same pedigree, even if Angelo Mathews remains a tether between the two, but it’s by no means a poor one – they have in fact beaten both Australia and South Africa, albeit at home, in recent times – so facing off against a New Zealand team shorn of several of its first choice players should have in theory made for some quite competitive cricket, home or away. Which is what made the outcome of that first, tremendously one-sided ODI so jarring.

It’s been nearly a week since then, and the washed-out second match would have no doubt given the visitors an extra couple of days to stew over that abysmal performance in Auckland.

Going into the series decider New Zealand will once more be fielding a bunch of players pushing hard for World Cup spots. As for Sri Lanka, what they’ve brought recently hasn’t been anywhere near good enough. Qualification may be out of their hands too, but it would be nice if they at least gave themselves a shot at it.

He has had to bide his time, but at 30 years of age Chad Bowes finally made his long-awaited international bow in the first ODI. And while his stay at the crease might have been brief, it gave the sense of a man at ease with his game. That said, his primary position is at the top of the order – an area admittedly not top of the hosts’ pre-World Cup priorities. But with plenty of white-ball cricket ahead of the tournament, a trademark Bowes barrage on Friday certainly wouldn’t hurt his chances of settling in the selectors’ thoughts.

It wouldn’t be unfair to say that Dhananjaya de Silva has flattered to deceive throughout his career. In Tests, 3006 runs at an average of 38.53 hints at unfulfilled potential. In T20Is, he’s proven to be a handy allrounder with his speedy offbreaks – though it says something when it’s his bowling rather than batting that tends to be the key factor in his inclusion. His worst format is then arguably ODIs, where he strikes at just 78 and averages 26.28. Nevertheless his omission from the first one-dayer caused a minor social media furore, illustrating how highly he is regarded despite his shortcomings. If Sri Lanka are to build a successful head of steam leading to the World Cup, Dhananjaya – among others – will need to start living up to the hype.

New Zealand (probable):

Henry Nicholls, Chad Bowes, Will Young, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Latham (capt, wk), Mark Chapman, Rachin Ravindra, Henry Shipley, Matt Henry, Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner

Sri Lanka (possible):

Pathum Nissanka, Nuwanidu Fernando, Kusal Mendis (wk), Angelo Mathews, Charith Asalanka, Dasun Shanaka (capt), Dhananjaya de Silva, Chamika Karunaratne, Wanindu Hasaranga, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara.

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Dharshana, Dilshi among top athletes to create new meet records



Sprinter Aruna Dharshana registered the second fastest time by a Sri Lankan in the men’s 200 metres and Dilshi Kumarasinghe returned to winning ways as they created new meet record marks on day two of the 58th Army Athletics Championships at Diyagama on Thursday. Dharshana who had to face disappointment after being disqualified for a foul start at the same venue at the first selection trial 10 days ago, overcame the disappointment yesterday when he clocked 20.65 seconds to win the men’s 200 metres.

His blazing performance is now second only to Yupun Abeykoon’s national record performance of 20.37 seconds in the men’s 200 metres. Dharshana’s feat is now the fastest by a Sri Lankan on home soil as he overtook Vinoj Suranjaya’s 20.68 seconds feat of 2018.

Kumarasinghe established the meet record when she returned a time of 2:04.89 seconds to win the women’s 800 metres.  Nilani Ratnayake gave the second day an exciting start as she clocked 9:55.20 seconds to win the women’s 3,000 metres steeplechase in a new meet record performance.

H.S.E. Janith meanwhile created a new national record with a feat of 5.16 metres in the men’s pole vault.    In the men’s and women’s 10,000 metres race walking events P.H.S.L. Fernando and U.V.K. Madirika established national records. Fernando returned a time of 45:12.22 seconds to win his event while Madirika clocked 49:25.97 seconds for her victory.


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