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McLaughlin breaks world 400m hurdles record with 51.41 at US Championships 

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Sydney McLaughlin does not race often, but she produces memorable performances whenever she does step on the track. Running a sizzling world record of 51.41* in the women’s 400m hurdles on a hot afternoon at the US Championships on Saturday (25), McLaughlin has now set world records in three of her past four 400m hurdles finals.

Clearing the hurdles effortlessly and with no one pressing her, McLaughlin broke her own record of 51.46 from the Tokyo Olympics, where she captured the gold medal. McLaughlin set her first world record of 51.90 on this same track, Hayward Field in Eugene, during last year’s US Olympic Trials and will return here next month for the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.

“I knew it was going to be fast,” McLaughlin said. “I looked at the time and I was really happy with it – being able to slowly progress towards lower and lower times – and I think there’s still things I could work on. I think there’s a little bit more in the tank there, so hopefully when it’s time we can just empty it completely.”

Before the three rounds of the US Championships, McLaughlin had run only twice this season: one 100m hurdles race and one 400m hurdles race, in which she clocked a world-leading 51.61 with one of the hurdles placed in the wrong position. She then withdrew from the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting in New York two weeks ago to focus on the National Championships.

McLaughlin had a lead of about six metres entering the home straight and that margin had grown significantly by the time she reached the finish. NCAA champion Britton Wilson ran a PB of 53.08 for second and Shamier Little, the 2015 world silver medallist who missed the US Olympic team last year by one spot, was third with a season’s best of 53.92.

McLaughlin was the world silver medallist in 2019 behind former world record-holder Dalilah Muhammad, who has a wildcard entry to the World Championships as defending champion and did not compete at the US Championships. They will likely face off next month, where McLaughlin said, “we want to put on a show for the world.”

Norman rewrites Hayward Field record Michael Norman posted a world-leading time of 43.56 to win the men’s 400m, besting his own 43.60 from the Prefontaine Classic in May on the same track. He now owns the three fastest times at Hayward Field, having also run 43.61 in 2018. Champion Allison nearly lived up to his name, finishing second with a PB of 43.70 while challenging Norman, who had to dig deep to pull away on the final stretch. Randolph Ross was third in 44.17.

Norman has run only six races this season. “I think I’m in a pretty good place,” he said. “I know I’m in really good shape. I’m excited to go back and dissect the race and figure out what areas I need to fine tune. I know it was nowhere near a perfect race.”

Norman will be seeking his first individual medal at a World Championships or Olympic Games, having finished fifth in Tokyo and failing to reach the final in Doha in 2019. “It does give me a little bit more comfort knowing that I’ve gone through the process and know what the experience is like,” he said. “I just want a different outcome.”

Diggs digs deep

Talitha Diggs, daughter of four-time Olympian Joetta Clark and niece of world and Olympic 800m finalist Hazel Clark, won the 400m in 50.22 to make her first national team. Olympic 4x400m gold medallists Kendall Ellis and Lynna Irby were second (50.35) and third (50.67) respectively.

“To see my mom and my aunt win so many of these titles, for me to get my own is a blessing,” said Diggs, who is the only US woman to break 50 seconds this season with a 49.99 for fourth on the world list.

Allyson Felix put herself in the frame for relay consideration for what would be her 10th World Championships team by placing sixth in 51.24.This is the farewell season for the 36-year-old, who made her first appearance at a senior US Championships 21 years ago.

“I’m happy I have no more open 400s ever in life,” Felix said with a laugh. “I wanted to come here, put myself in a position to be considered for one of the relays, so I can’t be upset. I’m grateful for all of the memories and happy I did it one more time.”

Felix is the most decorated US track and field athlete and has 13 World Championships gold medals, three silvers and two bronzes.

Harrison holds off Johnson The 100m hurdles had the closest finish of the day, with Keni Harrison out-leaning Alaysha Johnson at the tape. Harrison, the world record-holder and Olympic silver medallist, clocked a season’s best of 12.34 to Johnson’s PB of 12.35. Alia Armstrong was third at 12.47.Nia Ali, the world champion who is coming back from maternity leave, ran 12.49 in the semis and then withdrew because she has a wildcard entry for the World Championships.

In the upset of the day, Maggie Malone, the US record-holder and world leader in the women’s javelin, was eliminated after three straight fouls. The Olympic finalist put her hands to her head in distress after her third toss was wide right.Kara Winger won the event with a season’s best of 64.26m for her ninth national title going back to 2008.

Two-time Olympic finalist Keturah Orji leaped 14.79m to win her sixth US crown in the women’s triple jump, putting her second on the world list this season. The only better marks in US history are Orji’s US record of 14.92m from 2021 and Tori Franklin’s 14.84m from 2018.Franklin was second with a season’s best of 14.59m and NCAA champion Jasmine Moore was third with 14.15m.World and Olympic finalist Hillary Bor pulled away to win his third US steeplechase title while US record-holder Evan Jager proved that he is back after a hard four years full of injuries.

Bor’s winning time was 8:15.76, followed by Jager at 8:17.29 and Benard Keter at 8:19.16.

“I’m glad he made the team,” Bor said of Jager. “I’m happy for him now, more than me.”

Jager, the 2016 Olympic silver medallist, was one of the top steeplechasers in the world between 2012 and 2018.

“It’s been a real hard long journey to build back my body and my confidence,” he said. “I definitely haven’t felt like myself this last season steepling. I’m really proud of myself being able to get back here and making the team.”

Daniel Haugh became the sixth US man to throw beyond 80 metres in the hammer, winning the title with 80.18m and beating continental record-holder Rudy Winkler in the process.Cooper Teare, who is known more as a 5000m runner, won a strategic men’s 1500m in 3:45.86 while Sinclaire Johnson won the women’s 1500m in 4:03.29.



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All Seeded players through to semis

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P & S Sri Lanka Junior Open Golf Championship

The P&S Sri Lanka Junior Golf Match-play championship, sponsored by P&S Bakers group, entered the knock-out stage, with the quarter-final matches worked off with the seeded players moving through comfortably bar the thrilling cliff-hanger match between Jacob Norton Seeded 3 in the Silver Division and Varun Fernando (6th Seed) who fought all the way to take the match to the 20th hole, where Jacob prevailed.

Jacob Norton will meet second-seeded H.D. Adithya Weerasinghe (A’pura) who beat T. Deshan 6 & 4 comfortably. The top-seeded Reshan Algama beat Kaiyan Johnpillai convincingly 7 & 6, and will face fifth-seeded Jevahn Sathasivam who defeated fourth Seeded Keshav Algama with an easy 7 & 6 victory.

In the Gold Division, second-seeded Yannik Kumara withdrew after the qualifying round as he was scheduled to play in a tournament overseas and was not included in the match-play draw.

The top seed Haroon Aslam breezed through to the semi-final pulverizing W.G. Isurur  Shimal 9 & 7 and will meet Pranav Muralidharan the fourth seed who handsomely beat an experienced T. Vikash 7 & 6. In the bottom half of the Junior  Championship  Draw, second-seeded K. Danushan smashed Thenuk Sathnidu 8 & 7. He will play third seed Vinuka Weerasinghe who beat Yehan Kenthula 6 & 4.

In the Girls Gold Division number one seed Kaya Daluwatte will meet Yehani Perera who received a walk-over from Dhanushi Wanasinghe. Third seed Dhavinka Kanag-Isvaran beat R.M. Dinumi Sanjana 7 & 6 to set-up the second semi-final against second seed Sherin Balasuriya who also received a walk over from Sanduni Wanasinghe.

The Bronze Division Semi-Final clash between top seed Thejas Rathis Kanth and Keya Abhayarathne will be the feature battle. Keya Abhayarathne defeated Kaitlyn Norton 6 & 5 to set-up the semi-final match versus the top seed Thejas. In the bottom half of the draw second-seed Mohamed Saqeer Zuhar  will meet third-seeded Yehansa Senananayake.

In the Copper Division played over nine holes, Yuvan Rathis Kanth beat L.G. Anuja Methsara 6 & 4 to meet the second seed Jaeden Sathasivam whilst in the top half of the draw top seed Danik Daluwatte faces Taalia Silva.

The five semi-final matches scheduled for Thursday promise to be thrillers with the youngsters soaking in the pressure and performing well, adapting to the exciting Match-play format, that moulds the character of young golfers.

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Arjuna heads new Sports Council  

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Members of the newly appointed Sports Council pose with the Sports Minister

A new Sports Council was appointed by Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe yesterday with World Cup-winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga taking the reign as the head of the apex body.

The other members of the Sports Council are: Lieutenant General H.L.V.M. Liyanage, Air Marshal S.K. Pathirana, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, Amal Edirisooriya, Maj. Gen. Rajitha Ampemohotti, Dr. Maiya Gunasekara, Shriyani Kulawansa, Ajith Pathirana, Sunil Jayaweera, Chrishantha Mendis, Lasitha Gunaratne, Nalinda Illangakoon, Sudath Chandrasekara, Sujani Bogollagama.

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NH bids adieu to Ladies’ College after 50-year stint as TT coach

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N.H Perera pictured with the Ladies’ College table tennis team players

By a Special Sports Correspondent

Former table tennis National Champion, National Coach and sporting legend N.H Perera probably set a record in the Sri Lankan school sporting arena when he retired from coaching Ladies’ College Colombo in the ping pong ball and racket game after serving this academic institute for 50 years.

NH, as he is fondly known in the table tennis circles, started coaching Ladies College back in 1972 following an invitation made to him by the teacher in charge of sports back then Delita Fernando. When he turns the pages of time the only reason that came to his mind to say yes to this coaching assignment was that he wanted to give something back to the sport. He was quite young then (21 to be exact) and had won the table tennis national singles crown twice (1968/70) by then. He recalled with fondness how the lasses from this school won the National School Games title in 2019.

He produced many outstanding female players from this school and the secret behind his success was him being a strict disciplinarian. At the time he said yes to coaching at Ladies’ College he had laid down a condition for the authorities of the school. That was to arrange practices in the morning. This was because he was gainfully employed in work done outside table tennis. This goes on to show the caliber of players in the golden years of the sport. A good many of them had the capacity to contribute to society using their brains and education unlike today where the players are forced to supplement their income through table tennis coaching. For the record, NH served several companies and institutes in many capacities; proving that engaging in competitive sport and showing commitment to employment are a possibility when the individual has the capacity to manage both. When he finally retired from work he held the post of Marketing Manager at United Arab Shipping Lines.

He had his education at Nalanda College and had the honour of being the first table tennis national captain to be produced by this academic institute.

He rates the 1970s as the golden era of the sport. “I say this because we were invited by the ITTF to contest the Afro Asian Latin American Table Tennis Championship in Peking, China. During his playing days, NH had beaten top players from Russia, China, and also Europe. The picture he sees now in Sri Lankan table tennis is not so rosy. “We even lost to Nepal at the last SA Games. I believe the TTASL must be dissolved and a Board of Control for Table Tennis must be formed instead. Today we see many coaches out there who cannot put the ball over the net,” said Perera.

NH sees more potential in the Sri Lanka female players. According to him, the women’s players from Sri Lanka had finished sixth at the previous Commonwealth Games. “I trust that the way forward would be to bring down a female table tennis coach and male trainer; both from China. This would raise the standard of our playing,” said Perera who many years ago qualified as a coach from the Peking University of China.

He also spoke about the psychological aspects to training players. NH underscored the importance of bringing in psychology to training to help players handle unexpected challenges in the game. “You have to do sessions to develop the minds of the players,” said Perera.

He is at present engaged in coaching the students at S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia. The school by the sea won the All Island Table Tennis Championships in 2019 under his guidance.

NH maintains high standards for his players and himself. He recalls an incident in the past; which occurred during the time he was young and already the national champion. “I was coming out of the YMCA training hall after training and a photographer asked me to pose for a picture. I was in slacks and this picture appeared in the newspaper. I was summoned to the TTASL and a top official asked me why I had disgraced the sport by not being properly attired for a photograph that appeared in a national newspaper. I learned a valuable lesson in life,” concluded Perera.

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