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Historic 100 metres feat and country’s relay chances

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by Reemus Fernando

With Italy based sprinter Yupun Abeykoon claiming the national record in the 100 metres on Tuesday, Sri Lanka now has three current athletes who have run the glamour event of the track and field sport under 10.30 seconds, a strong position not many countries of this region can boast of. The recent performances of these three sprinters and the other emerging athletes are indicate a bright prospect in the 4×100 metres relay. Leading athletic analyst and Sri Lanka Athletics statistician Saman Kumara says that a strong team inclusive of these sprinters can strive for sub 39 seconds in the 4×100 metres relay. Sub 39 seconds will help the country strive for Olympic qualifying rankings for the postponed Tokyo event.

Incidentally, the former national record holders of the 100 metres Himasha Eshan and Vinoj Suranjaya were part of the team that established the current National men’s 4×100 metres record in 2018. Shehan Ambepitiya who was part of that team has retired. You need only simple mathematics to understand what four inform sprinters, inclusive of the incumbent record holder of the 100 metres and two former record holders, could do to the 39.08 seconds 4×100 metres national record established during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.

Sri Lanka won the 4×100 metres relay at the regional South Asian Games ousting India in December. But that doesn’t get Sri Lanka anywhere closer to an Olympics spot in the 4×100 metres. You need to be ranked within the first two dozen teams in the World Athletics rankings to be eligible for an Olympic spot in the 4×100 metres relay.

It will be too early to predict the country’s prospects, with the locally trained athletes still waiting to flex their muscles in the aftermath of the covid 19 pandemic but authorities can be optimistic about chances at Asian events. It is incumbent upon authorities to look after these promising athletes as the country’s current pool of men’s 100 metres sprinters are in a historic position.

The country’s 100 metres had experienced somewhat similar position in the early 50’s when the likes of Sumanthiran Nawaratnam (Summa Nawaratnam), Oscar Wijesinghe and B.C. Henricus, all who had held the record, used to form formidable relay teams in the illustrious company of Duncan White.

The men’s 100 metres record had remained stranded for more than one and half decades when Himasha Eshan broke it in Guwahati in 2016. After the exploits of Sriyantha Dissanayake, country’s only 100 metres medalist at an Asian Games (1990 Beijing) and Chinthaka Soyza in the 90s, no Sri Lankan had run an Olympics 100 metres. But since Himasha’s feat the record has changed hands three times a promising sign for better days ahead.

After the world moved to 100 metres from the 100 yards Sri Lanka had only 11 record holders from 1949 to 2020. The record had improved 17 times within that period.

The coveted record had been under the belt of some outstanding individuals who were household names. Osmand de Silva (10.2 secs, hand timing) who held the record for three years from 1931 later became country’s Inspector General of Police. Double international Summa Nawaratnam who improved the record more than once was once called the fastest in Asia. Olympian Sunil Gunawardena who held the record for two decades since 1970 later became national coach and was an influential head of the Athletics Association of Sri Lanka. K.L.F. Wijedasa who took the record in 1955 was the national coach in 70s and 80s. Upali S. Gunaratne who held the record when the event was conducted as 100 yards in 1938 later became a Vice President of the Athletics Association of Sri Lanka.



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Sri Lanka suffer heavy defeat in Galle after dramatic collapse

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Travis Head had never claimed a Test wicket in his career and yesterday in Galle in just 17 deliveries he accounted for four wickets as Sri Lanka collapsed in dramatic style to lose the first Test by ten wickets

Rex Clementine in Galle

After an impressive ODI series win, the national cricket team is back to square one as they suffered a heavy ten wicket defeat in the first Test in the most embarrassing way inside three days here in Galle. Sri Lanka were shot out for 113 runs in their second innings in 22.5 overs as it took Australia less than a session to run through the opposition with spinners sharing all ten wickets. It’s Sri Lanka’s second lowest total ever in Galle.

Trailing by 109 runs in the first innings, Sri Lanka started off well as the openers added 37 runs for the first  wicket. Mitchell Starc’s first over had gone for 17 runs including four boundaries. That was the end of seam as Pat Cummins reverted to an all spin attack and the trio of Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Swepson and Travis Head ensured that Australia were home before lunch.

The Australian batters had used the sweep shot to great effect and Sri Lankans took a leaf out of them trying to bat themselves out of trouble with the high risk stroke. But there was a significant difference. Sri Lanka’s bowling was wayward and all over the place while the Australians were on the money and it was just a matter of time before the batsman perished.

Dimuth Karunarante and Pathum Nissanka fell in successive overs and then Kusal Mendis and Oshada Fernando departed in the space of seven deliveries as Sri Lanka were reduced to 63 for four.

A 32 run stand followed between Dinesh Chandimal and Dhananjaya de Silva for the fifth wicket and Pat Cummins figured that Swepson had become predictable. Then he threw the ball to part-timer Travis Head, who had never taken a Test wicket in his career. Soon, he became lethal polishing the lower order as he picked up four wickets in 17 deliveries.

Head claimed his maiden Test wicket with his second delivery as Chandimal was bowled neck and crop. The batsman was standing in disbelief after the ball had spun sharply and went through the gate. Three deliveries later, Dhananjaya de Silva was trapped leg before wicket to leave Sri Lanka with the tail. There was not much resistance as the last six wickets fell for 13 runs as Australia wrapped the Test match inside three days. Australia needed just five runs for victory and Warner leveled the scores with a reverse sweep for four off Ramesh Mendis in the third ball of the innings. The next ball he launched for a six to win the game in style before lunch.

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Isipathana prevail over Wesley in close game

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Isipathana prevail over Wesley in close game

By a Special Sports Correspondent

Isipathana College produced magic in the dying minutes in their Division 1 Segment 1A Group B match against Wesley at the Sugathadasa Stadium to produce a 10-0 win yesterday.

Wesley had only themselves to blame for giving away four yellow cards; two of which went to Shaveen Jayawardene. The score at half time was nil all.

The winners produced a penalty and a conversion while the try came through Wewara Pandith.In the other match played yesterday Trinity beat St. Anthony’s College 25-18 and remain unbeaten after the second week of matches.

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Renuka, Deepti give India 1-0 lead

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India beat Sri Lanka in the opening ODI of the three-match series in Pallekele, but not before a scare. Sri Lanka offspinner Oshadi Ranasinghe took two early wickets, left-arm spinner Inoka Ranaweera took 4 for 39 through the middle overs, and for a brief period, it seemed that Sri Lanka would successfully defend 171.

However, their below-par total meant India’s struggling batting line-up could creep up and register a four-wicket win, bringing relief to a unit that would have wanted to chase it down with ease at the halfway mark.

But, arguably, it was Renuka Singh’s early strike that made the biggest difference in Sri Lanka’s chances of searching for the win after choosing to bat. She got the big wicket of Sri Lanka’s star batter and captain Chamari Athapaththu in the third over of the morning, and later closed her day out with two late wickets of Nilakshi de Silva and Ranasinghe with two slower balls.

Sharma and Renuka Singh picked up three-wicket hauls to bowl out Sri Lanka for 171. Deepti feasted through the middle overs of the first innings, making full use of the big turn on offer, dismissing Hansima Karunaratne for a duck and Hasini Perera for 37. Deepti took the final Sri Lankan wicket too, leaving the hosts with ten deliveries unused.

India Women

176 for 6 (Harmanpreet Kaur 44, Shafali Verma 35, Harleen Deol 34, Inoka Ranaweera 4-39) beat Sri Lanka Women 171 (Nilakshi de Silva 43, Hasini Perera 37, Deepti Sharma 3-25, Renuka Singh 3-29) by four wickets.

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