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Lakshani’s coach out of World Junior Championships after testing positive for Covid

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by Reemus Fernando   

Sports Officer Madura Perera who trained middle distance runner Shanika Lakshani to reach qualifying standards for next week’s World Junior Championship in Nairobi will not join the team leaving for Kenya after testing positive for Covid 19.

Perera, who was instrumental in carefully guiding Lakshani during a trouble-stricken 2020 to shatter one of Sri Lanka’s long standing junior records, tested positive for the virus on August 10, the day the team of six selected athletes and five officials underwent the first mandatory tests for Covid 19. Perera had been asymptomatic to the virus on the day of the test.

Sri Lanka Athletics had picked three coaches including Perera to accompany the team to Nairobi but yesterday the track and field governing body announced a fresh team of officials leaving out Perera.

Incidentally, Perera played a crucial role to continue the training of the prospective youngster uninterrupted even when lock down restrictions were in force at Gampaha last year. The guidance during that period helped the Holy Cross College, Gampaha athlete break a long standing junior national record held by former National Champion Dammika Menike.

The Asian Youth Championship (2019) participant broke Dammika Menike’s 1985 junior record in the 1,500 metres (4:35.70 seconds) at the National Championships in December 2020. That was the first step to achieve qualifying standards for the World Junior Championships.

Four months later at the first selection trial held in April, Lakshani reached the qualifying standards for the World Junior Championships in 800 metres when she clocked 2:07.02 seconds (Qualifying mark: 2:08.70 seconds).

Lakshani is one of the four athletes to have qualified for the World Junior event.  Fellow 800 metres runner Tharushi Karunaratne from Ratnayake Central, Walala and Lumbini College sprinter Medhani Jayamanne (100m, 200m) and Ananda Sastralaya, Matugama sprinter Isuru Kaushalya (400m) are the others who have reached qualifying standards for the six-day event which starts on August 17.

Holy Cross College, Gampaha sprinter Lakshima Mendis and Wekada MV, Chilaw athlete Dilshan Bandara are joining the contingent to form the 4×400 metres mixed relay team while Sithum Jayasundara from Sir John Kothalawala MV, Kurunegala is the reserve.

The team is scheduled to leave for Nairobi on Sunday.

Officials:

Dr. Dammika Senanayake (Covid 19 Liaison Officer), Jagath Gnanasiri Silva (Manager), Umanga Surendra (Coach), Danushka Munasinghe (Coach), Sunethra Karunanayake (Lady Chaperone).



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Gateway felicitates coach for making Sri Lanka proud 

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Gateway’s top coaches Tharindu Fernando, Thilanka Jinadasa and Pradeep Nishantha are pictured here

Pradeep Nishantha, Assistant Head of Sports of Gateway College Colombo was felicitated by the school for his remarkable contribution in producing two medal winners at the recently concluded Paralympic Games in Japan.

The national anthem was played for the very first time at an Olympics when Dinesh Priyantha Herath who was trained by Pradeep Nishantha won a gold medal with a new world record. Pradeep has been employed at Gateway since 2005 and he has been responsible for producing many national athletes from Gateway.

Gateway students are blessed to be coached and guided by professionals of the highest caliber. Thilaka Jinadasa, the Team Leader – Sports development for the entire group represented Sri Lanka in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

Among Gateway’s team of coaches are a number of top Sri Lankan coaches. Tharindu Fernando, who was recently appointed National Basketball Coach for the Under 23 Sri Lankan side is among them.

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Dialog and SLC release T20 World Cup song ‘Ape Kollo’ 

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Amali Nanayakkara, Group Chief Marketing Officer, Dialog Axiata PLC hands over the first CD of the ‘Ape Kollo’ song to Dr. Jayantha Dharmadasa, Vice President, SLC. Also in picture artistes and Dialog brand ambassadors who performed the ‘Ape Kollo’ song, (L-R) Madhuvy, Sanka Dineth, Sanuka, Sajitha, Santhush, Upul Nawaratne Bandara, Head of Marketing, SLC, Harsha Samaranayake, Senior General Manager, Brand and Media – Group Marketing, Dialog Axiata PLC, Bathiya, Umaria, Senali and guest performer, Roy. Absent - Yohan

The national cricket team’s sponsor and Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, Dialog Axiata, together with Sri Lanka Cricket, recently released ‘Ape Kollo’ the T20 World Cup song in support of the Team on their T20 World Cup campaign which will commence on the 18th of October 2021 in the United Arab Emirates.

The song will be sung by a stellar line-up of artistes and Dialog brand ambassadors including, Bathiya and Santhush, Umaria, Yohani, Sanka Dineth, Sajitha, Sanuka, Madhuvy and guest performer, Roy Jackson. With lyrics written by Triad, the Sri Lanka Cricket T20 World Cup song is an initiative powered by Dialog Axiata connecting the wishes of every Sri Lankan.

Dr. Jayantha Dharmadasa, Vice President of Sri Lanka Cricket said, “I would like to thank Dialog Axiata for materializing the T20 World Cup song into existence. This tribute will be an immense morale boost for players and fans alike. The team over the past few months have been playing tourneys and trial games which have been instrumental in selecting the best combination for the T20 World Cup in UAE.”

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Sri Lanka will qualify, but can they reach semis?  

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by Rex Clementine

The cricket fans of Sri Lanka are truly amazing. They know pretty well that the chances of the team reaching the semi-finals in UAE is as low as that of Maithripala Sirisena winning a future Presidential election, but they keep believing that their team will deliver. It is only fair that the players come up with a decent show, unlike Maithripala.

If the IPL is any indication, there aren’t going to be too many high scoring games over the next four weeks and spin is going to play a huge part. That will certainly be a good indication for Sri Lanka’s bowlers.

Their batsmen, however, it remains to be seen what lessons they have learnt on sweeping. Grant Flower seemed to be having little tricks up his sleeve on the advantage of the sweep, both the conventional, paddle and reverse. Hopefully, now that Sri Lanka have a fine sweeper in their coaching staff in Mahela Jayawardene, the issue has been discussed at length.

Lack of smart options against spin has been one reason for Sri Lanka’s decline in the shorter formats of the game. Ours was a team where the sweep was the batsmen’s bread and butter and it’s quite perplexing how the current lot have forgotten to sweep and the coaching staff have failed to address the issue.

Avishka Fernando has been tremendous to watch. He has always been an exciting player and such a shame that he failed a fitness test in January and was banished from the team hotel. He was so close to making his Test debut against England and failing the fitness test was a bitter pill to swallow. But glad that the selectors and the coaching staff had the conviction to do it. They have spared the rod and spoilt too many young children. Avishka has bounced back; leaner, fitter, stronger and hungrier. IPL teams will be watching and the gut feeling is we are talking of a future billionaire in this space.

There is some school of thought that Avishka should bat at number four. He has come up with some consistent performances in that position this week. It’s true that he is Aravinda’s heir apparent, but Sri Lanka has to make the most of the Power Plays and Avishka should open batting with Kusal Perera to make most of the field restrictions. You sense that you have enough fire power in Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga and Chamika Karunaratne to take care of the death overs.

Oppositions will focus a lot on Hasaranga’s leg spin as he has had quite a bit of success in the lasts 12 months and ended up earning a contract in the IPL. World Cup is a superb occasion for him to stamp his authority as one of world’s leading wrist spinners.

Maheesh Theekshana, the new kid, has a bit of surprise element in him and could trouble teams that have not seen him much as he proved during his debut against Proteas last month. It will be interesting to see how teams that do not play spin that well handle him.

The last minute decision to include Akila Dananjaya while axing Praveena Jayawickrama hasn’t gone down too well with some supporters. But it’s a smart move. There’s no denying of the fact that Akila has looked a pale shadow of his former self since remodeling his action and in recent months has looked awful. But then, Sri Lanka have to qualify. The team is thin on experience after our selectors chased away half a dozen seniors and Akila has a surprise element about him and that could come in handy; particularly in the qualifying round.

The spin trio is not Sri Lanka’s only strength. Their main weapon is pace with Dushmantha Chameera picking up wickets with the new ball consistently and he will be their key weapon. Such a shame that the team will miss the services of Nuwan Pradeep, a clever bowler in death overs.

All hope is not lost for Sri Lanka though. One good thing is that they are not playing any Asian teams. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are all in Group ‘B’. Sri Lanka will have Australia, England, West Indies, South Africa and one more qualifier and if their spin fires, they could spring a few surprises. Can they go onto book a semi-final berth?

In T-20 cricket anything can happen. So don’t just rule out the Sri Lankan team. The same can be said of our voters. Don’t rule out Maithripala.

A land like no other!

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