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Keep training uninterrupted, the biggest challenge for athletes in centenary year

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Sri Lanka has several athletes in the calibre of Nilani Ratnayake who could excel at some of the international events happening in 2022.

Sri Lanka Athletics announces calendar for 2022

by Reemus Fernando

How to keep training uninterrupted amidst the Covid-19 pandemic to succeed at international events is the biggest problem the track and field athletes need to find answers to in the sport’s centenary year in 2022 as Sri Lanka Athletics announced a busy 2022 Competition calendar inclusive of three major international competitions yesterday.

Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and World Championships are the major international competitions that Sri Lanka Athletics has traditionally given priority to. The sport’s governing body which celebrates its centenary year in 2022 is ambitions about sending teams to all these international events.

However, track and field governing body is still struggling to complete the 2021 edition of the National Championship due to the Covid 19 pandemic. The Sri Lanka Athletics decided to conduct the 2021 Nationals in stages due to the pandemic. It held its first stage in April but had to post

pone the second stage on more than one occasion due to the pandemic.

When the governing body announced the Calendar for the year 2022 it also announced the dates for the remaining stage of the National Championship 2021. That will be held on October 30 and 31.

The Covid 19 pandemic dealt a severe blow to the aspirations of track and field athletes as lockdowns hampered their training and also prevented them from taking part in supportive minor international events in the region in both 2020 and 2021. While top athletes struggled to improve their world rankings due to the unavailability of quality international competitions, the bio secure environments for training were a luxury only the cricketers could enjoy.

Sri Lanka has several athletes who could excel at some of the above said international events and the vital Junior International events which will happen in 2022. The likes of Nilani Ratnayake who missed Olympic qualifying standards due to lack of competitions should be supported to achieve success at Asian level.

The athletes who missed Olympic Qualifying standards due to lack of international competitions will be eager to take part in these events in 2022 and the Asian Youth Championships, Asian Junior Championships and World Junior Championships are vital to keep juniors interested in track and field sports. But with Covid-19 pandemic still making it difficult for athletes to train safely in the country it will be incumbent upon sports authorities to make necessary arrangements for at least the athletes in the elite pools to train in bio secure environments.

While a coach of a junior athletics team could not travel with his athlete after being found positive to Covid-19 ahead of the World Junior Championships in July another coach of a Para athlete had to skip training ahead of the Tokyo Paralympics due to Covid 19. Meanwhile a number of sportsmen and women contacted Covid 19 while using the Sports Ministry’s hostels at Torrington during the last few months.

Such disappointments can be avoided if necessary arrangements are be made for selected athletics teams to train in bio secure bubbles.



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Jadeja stars in CSK’s sensational last-ball win over KKR

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In a game full of twists and turns, Ravindra Jadeja’s sensational finish helped Chennai Super Kings beat Kolkata Knight Riders by two wickets. CSK chased down 171 on the last ball with Jadeja smashing 22 off 8 before falling on the penultimate delivery. CSK picked up their eighth win and also took the top spot away from Delhi Capitals.

Good start. Bad progress.

KKR, having opted to bat, made a scratchy beginning. Shubman Gill struck two consecutive boundaries against Deepak Chahar, overturned an lbw call with the help of DRS but was eventually run out. Venkatesh Iyer couldn’t really find the rhythm he had in the last two matches and made just 18. KKR had 50 in the opening five overs and had lost just one wicket. In the next five, they scored only 28 for 2 as Shardul Thakur dismissed Iyer in the sixth. Eoin Morgan fell in the tenth as KKR slipped to 78 for 3.

Rana builds, Karthik finishes

While other batsmen failed to get going, it was Rahul Tripathi’s assault that kept the scoreboard moving for KKR. He struck 45 off 33 but had his share of luck. He was caught behind trying to upper-cut a Sam Curran bouncer. The umpires deemed the pacer had delivered his second bouncer of the over and signalled a no ball. Tripathi fell in the 13th with 89 on the board. The stage was set for Andre Russell but the slow nature of the track didn’t allow the allrounder the pace he needed. Russell did strike two boundaries and a six but fell for 20 off 15.

At one stage, Nitish Rana was batting on 22 off 21. KKR needed a move on and it came from Dinesh Karthik. In the 19th, Karthik struck 19 against Curran to lift the side past 150. Rana finished strong and ended with unbeaten 37 off 27.

CSK’s solid start

At the 10-over mark, batting coach David Hussey felt 170 was going to be a winning score. Ruturaj Gaikwad (40 off 28) and Faf du Plessis (43 off 30) made 74 in 8.2 overs. The plan was clear as they not only took on the pacers but also put pressure on Varun Chakaravarthy (4 overs, eight dots, 22 runs and one wicket) in the first over. The spinner was struck for two boundaries by du Plessis and leaked nine in the over. Sunil Narine’s first two overs too proved to be expensive with 25 runs.

Chakaravarthy gave five in his second – the eighth of the innings – and that out pressure on the openers to keep going at a sustained higher pace. Gaikwad fell in the ninth – to Russell – but CSK eased past 100 in the 12th. Du Plessis fell in the 12th to Lockie Ferguson but Moeen Ali’s brisk start ensured CSK continued to stay ahead.

The KKR choke and Jadeja’s grand finish

Narine continued to be expensive but dismissed Ambati Rayudu in the 15th to start CSK’s wobble. Iyer too did a great job as he gave away just five in the 16th. CSK needed 40 off 24 and lost Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni from there on. That was the only joy for KKR as Ravindra Jadeja turned things around in grand style in the penultimate over.

Prasidh Krishan crumbled under pressure 6, 6, 4, and 4 to leave CSK needing 4 off 6. The drama, though, didn’t end there. Narine dismissed Curran and Jadeja before Deepak Chahar got the one run needed for the win on the last ball. (cricbuzz)

Brief scores:

Kolkata Knight Riders 171/6 in 20 overs (Rahul Tripathi 45; Shardul Thakur 2-20) Chennai Super Kings 172/8 in 20 overs (Faf du Plessis 43; Sunil Narine 3-41).

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Sajeewa wins bronze at the World Military Boxing Championships  

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Sri Lanka’s leading light fly weight (49kg) pugilist Sajeewa Nuwan Kumara of the Army lived up to his promise to deliver on the international stage by winning a bronze medal at the 58th World Military Boxing Championships in Russia. Armed with sound technique, the 29-year-old Lance Corporal has been almost unbeatable at home but has been found wanting against international opposition even failing to win a medal at the 2019 South Asian Games in Kathmandu. However, the two-time national champion who has carried away the Best Boxer awards in all three major local meets – Layton Cup, Clifford Cup and the Nationals – in the recent past, dispelled any doubts that he lacked the temperament to perform on the big stage when he fought the fight of his life to beat Mozambique’s Yassine Nordine Issufo in the quarter-final.

Sajeewa Nuwan dominated the opening round out-boxing and outscoring the southpaw and displaying quicksilver footwork to slip away when his opponent attacked. However, he changed tactics in the next two rounds fighting toe-to-toe and aggressively with tenacity against his tough adversary. It turned out to be a scrappy affair with the referee having to break them from clinching often. Nonetheless, the Sri Lankan soldier landed enough scoring blows especially solid rights to earn a split decision. Sajeewa lost to Leanderso Conceicao Siqueira of Brazil in the semifinals.

Army’s Ishan Bandara who has displayed indifferent form since winning a bronze medal at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, showed that he is not a spent force when he advanced to the quarter-finals in the fly weight (52kg) category defeating Pakistan’s Muhammad Dawood with the bout being stopped in the third round because of an injury. Up against a southpaw Damir Abdikadir from Kazakhstan who stopped Aliaksandr Butrym of Belarus, Bandara gave another good account of himself though the volume of punches he threw was less. The Kazak fighter craftily maintained his distance to outbox Bandara who attempted to stun his opponent with solid rights. Bandara did finish strongly being on target in the final round but it was too little too late, missing out on a podium finish.

Sri Lanka were also assured of another bronze medal when Gayani Nisansala competed in the semifinals of the middle weight (75kg) category against Viktoriya Kebikava of Belarus.

The rest of the 15-member strong Sri Lanka team were eliminated in the preliminaries with leading woman pugilist Sajeewani Cooray failing to go the distance against France’s LoryeRuyer in the light weight (57kg) contest.

Fly weight boxer Sanduni Priyadarshani was outpointed by world champion Ekateria Paltseva of Russia while Barbara dos Santos from Brazil had a fast victory over Kashmi Thiwanka in the first round of 69kg contest. The other Sri Lankan boxers lost unanimous decisions to fighters from Jordan, Kazakshtan and Iran.

Boxing Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) president Dian Gomes was buoyed by the medal winning effort of Sajeewa Nuwan.”We have three bronze medals from the recent past. Nadeeka Ranasinghe at the Asian Championships in Dubai and Sajeewa Nuwan Kumara and Saduni Kaluarachchi at the World Military Championship, proving yet again that boxing has the potential to win medals in the international arena,” said Gomes.

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When the referee gets bigger than the game… 

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by Rajitha Ratwatte 

The 100th All Black vs Springbok test match was played in Townsville to a sold-out stadium of 25,000 spectators. The referee from the UK Luke Peirce. The All Blacks started in style with Codie Taylor in the number two jersey making a great break off a long passage of play from the kick-off and sending Will Jordan over line mid-right. Jordie Barret converted 7–0 to the Kiwis in the first three minutes of the game. Two minutes later the Springboks triggered off what was going to be their game plan throughout the game with a high spiralling kick into the opposition 22 resulting in George Bridge being unable to collect clean and Sbu Nkosi (no 14) capitalising on the mistake and dotting down mid-right. Handre Pollard was unable to convert, and the score read 7–5 inside the first six minutes. That was it as far as running rugby and try-scoring went, as is to be expected when the South Africans’ call the shots and play to their preferences. The game was slowed down deliberately, and the referee probably used to this style of play from his Northern hemisphere background either chose not to react or simply didn’t do anything about the medical staff coming on almost after every single set-piece. The blood bin seemed to be a thing of the past and this combined with extremely slow forming up for lineouts was exactly how the ‘Boks wanted it to be.

 The rest of the half consisted of a series of penalties mostly against the Kiwis for discernible and sometimes unfathomable reasons. The AB’s ball-handling left much to be desired and the ‘Bok forwards pack definitely had the edge in both the set pieces and in loose play. A yellow card dished out to the South African try-scorer almost on half time for what should in the opinion of many, been a penalty try as well the only notable feature in a very scrappy and largely forgettable half. The lead changed twice, and the Kiwis were unable to capitalize in being a man up for six minutes in the first half. The halftime score read 13–11 to the Blacks.

The second half saw the South African go into the lead on penalties again 13–14 until the 56th minute when the ABs finally took a kickable penalty having turned down two earlier and went ahead by 16–14. The Boks’ kicked one more 16–17 and the Blacks retaliated 19–17. The lead had changed six times in the game so far and the Black bench came on with Quentin Tupaea was able to force a turnover penalty in the closing minutes of the game and Jordie Barret stepped up and into the history books by slotting the kick from the extreme left of the field and around 40 meters out. A slim victory 19-17 but all you can expect when you allow the Springboks to play their brand of rugby!

This victory ensures a win in this year’s rugby championship to the All Blacks with a game to spare and retention of the freedom cup which is awarded for the series against South Africa. The Kiwis definitely missed some of their stars who had chosen to stay at home for personal family reasons and it is hoped that the likes of Mo’uanga, Smith, and Whitelock join the team for the forthcoming European tours.

 When a team that has been holding on to the world champion of rugby union title for two years depending on a game plan that consists of high kicks and relying on the mistakes of the opposition and the vagaries of the referee to win, it does not bode well for the game. Rugby union may soon follow in the footsteps of Test cricket, into oblivion as a popular spectator sport.

 The second game of the double header was the Australian Wallabies hosting the Argentinean Pumas. A definitely improved Australian team never looked in trouble against the Pumas and even on the few occasions that the Pumas looked dangerous their discipline let them down. The Australians owe a lot to their Pacifica players led by Taniela Tupou in the front row, Valetini at number eight and backs Samu Karevi and Marika Korombeiti, who have brought a new and exciting dimension to their game.

The final score was 27–8 to the Australians. Three goals (Korombeiti, Karevi and Kalloway) and two penalty conversions to one try from the Argentinian skipper Julian Motoya and a penalty.

 supersubsports@gmail.com 

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