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Ministry of Education delivers another blow to endurance events

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Schools long distance relay dropped again

by Reemus Fernando

The Ministry of Education has scrapped the distance medley relay which was reintroduced to the programme of the All Island Schools Relay Carnival at its last edition. The relay is not in the All Island Schools Relay Carnival agenda of the recently issued circular outlining the programmes pertaining to school sports.

Sports authorities of the ministry have also disregarded numerous requests to include the 4×800 metres relay into the Under-16 age category.

The decision to scrap the distance medley relay comes as a surprise as the organizers of the last edition were determined to reintroduce the event to the Under-20 age category as well following the success of the event in the Under-18 age category at the 2019 edition.

The distance medley relay was reintroduced to the programme in 2019 after many schools nurturing athletes for long distance events made requests to include it.

Sports Authorities of the Ministry of Education have given scant regard to endurance events, despite local athletes proving potential to impress at regional international events in the 800 metres and long distance events as of late.

Currently the country’s top three 800 metres runners in the women’s category occupy top positions in Asian rankings. Sri Lanka’s women’s 800 metres specialists Nimali Liyanarachchi, Gayanthika Abeyratne and Dilshi Kumarasinghe are currently ranked third, fifth and sixth respectively in Asian rankings. In 2020 the trio were responsible for producing the second, third and fourth fastest times in the Asian region. Currently the only athlete to have come closer to booking a berth at the Tokyo Olympic, Nilani Ratnayake, is also a distance runner.

Currently the athlete who is closest to achieving entry standard for the World Under-20 Athletics Championship, Shanika Lakshani is also a distance runner having 800 metres as her pet event.

The country’s highest achievement at the 2017 Asian Youth Athletics Championship (Under-18) came in the 800 metres when Harsha Dissanayake won a silver.

Sri Lanka’s only Youth Olympic medalist, Paarami Wasanthi won her medal at the Buenos Aires Games in 2018 in a long distance event, the 2000 metres steeplechase.

The Sports Authorities of the Ministry have made changes to the lower age category competitions removing the points system and introducing merit standards to issue certificates instead of recognizing the first second and third positions of events in the Under-12 and under-14 age categories. That has been cited by some as the only positive move the authorities have made.

Sources close to the Education Ministry said that there had been numerous requests to introduce middle and long distance events to the schools track and field programmes. Such requests includes introduction of the 3,000 metres to the Under-18 age category. Currently the 3000 metres event is competed in this age category at the Junior National Championship conducted by Sri Lanka Athletics and the Sir John Tarbet Senior Championships conducted by Sri Lanka Schools Athletics Association. But the Ministry of Education has continued to give a wide berth to long distance events.

The absence of long distance relays will badly affect schools and coaches promoting long distance events among athletes largely hailing from outstations. Many coaches and school officials promote All Island Schools Relay Carnival among their athletes to keep them interested in track and field as the event encourages team spirit and provides the second string a rare opportunity to win medals alongside prominent athletes.

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Open semis today, semi-finalists found in U12 category

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SSC Open Ranking Tennis

The men’s and women’s open singles semi-finals of the SSC Open Ranking Tennis tournament will be played today with fifteen-year-old Dinethya Dharmarathne seeking a final berth against fancied counterparts.

Dharmarathne, who is also competing in the Under-16 age category singles, will encounter Janali Manamperi in the top semi-final of the women’s open singles. The other match will be between Savini Jayasuriya and Tania Doloswala.

Sankha Atukorale, who is the top seed in the men’s singles, will meet the Vibuda Wijebandara in the top semi final. Kiran Vairavanathan will take on Luca Knese, the champion of the recently held 105th Colombo Championships.

Meanwhile, the semi-finalists were found in the Under-12 girls’ singles, the lowest age category event, of the SSC Open Ranking Tennis tournament as two girls from Negombo schools and two girls from Musaeus College won their respective quarter-finals on Friday.

Movindi Fernando from Newstead College, Negombo, Githmi Fernand1o of Ave Maria and Musaeus College players Sandithi Usgodaarachchi and Gehansa Methnadi booked their spots to fight for a place in the final

(RF).

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More crisis as SLC forced to name new captain

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Sri Lanka’s T-20 skipper Dasun Shanaka  could miss the T-20 series in the Caribbean.

By Rex Clementine

Less than a month after Parliamentary watchdog committee – COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) severely censured officials of Sri Lanka Cricket for inefficiency and lack of transparency, the sport’s governing body has been exposed once again after the captain they named for the upcoming series in the Caribbean has been left stranded in Colombo unable to get a visa to fly to West Indies.

Dasun Shanaka was named as the captain for the three match series in the Caribbean and there was indication that he might hold onto the job at least till this year’s World Cup in India.

The team, however, travelled to the Caribbean on Tuesday without the captain. Sri Lanka team arrived in Antigua on Thursday after transits in Qatar and New York but the man who is supposed to lead them is still in Negombo.

The laws in Antigua, the home for Sir Viv Richards and Sir Curtly Ambrose is that tourists need to be in isolation for 72 hours before being allowed to train and the Sri Lankan team’s quarantine period ends tomorrow.

The first T-20 International begins on Wednesday (3rd March) and even if Shanaka leaves Colombo today, he is unlikely to meet quarantine regulations in time ahead of the game. Sources said that Shanaka could end up missing the entire T-20 series if he is unable to fly by Monday.

The latest development comes as another blow for SLC who were involved in a bitter public spat with former great Chaminda Vaas hours before the team departed for the Caribbean. Vaas was a last minute replacement for Australian David Saker as Bowling Coach and requested for a raise of his daily allowance. SLC would have ended up only paying US$ 5000 but took the fight onto Vaas and stopped short of calling him a traitor in a media release that went viral.

As for Shanaka, why only his visa had been delayed is because the all-rounder had been issued a previous US visa but he had lost that passport. The US embassy in Colombo is investigating whether anyone had misused the visa on the stolen passport.

Sources said given the issues that Shanaka would face in obtaining a US visa, the practical thing to do would have been to fly Shanaka to London and let him catch a flight to the Caribbean after he was unable to fly with the rest of the team. Gatwick airport in London flies to all Caribbean islands from Antigua to St. Vincent’s.

When contacted by The Island, a senior official of SLC said that there was a delay in Shanaka submitting his passport to the US embassy as he was made to quarantine after attending the wedding of cricketer Sadeera Samarawickrama.

However, another source said that the selectors had submitted the names of 35 probables for the Caribbean as early as 20th January. The practice is to get visas for all 35 but for some reason, SLC had severely delayed the process.

The selectors will consult Head Coach Mickey Arthur before naming a new captain. Sources said that the choice is between two players who had captained the team before.

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Dinethya shocks seniors to book semi-final place

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by Reemus Fernando

Fifteen-year-old Dinethya Dharmarathne turned tables on Oneli Perera and Vonara de Alwis to secure a place in the women’s singles semi-finals of the SSC Open Ranking Tennis tournament in Colombo on Thursday.

The Visakha Vidyalaya player beat Vonara de Alwis 7-5, 6-3 in the quarter-final yesterday after turning tables on Oneli Perera, the Under-18 champion of the recently concluded Colombo Championships.

In the third round, Dharmarathne overcame a first set defeat to beat Perera 3-6, 6-0, 10-4. The semi-final place is the highest achievement by the emerging player so far. Incidentally, it was Perera who eliminated Dharmarathne in the quarter-finals of the Colombo Championships.

Dharmarathne is the youngest in the semi-final line up now.

She is set to meet number one seed Janali Manamperi who beat Sethmi Sumanaweera 6-1, 6-0 in her match. The other semi-final will be between Savini Jayasuriya and Tania Doloswala who recorded victories in their matches.

In the men’s singles, Luca Knese, Sankha Atukorale, Vibuda Wijebandara and Kiran Vairavanathan completed the semi-final line up.

Atukorale is the number one seed of this Championship, which will conclude on March 7. While Knese beat number four seed Thehan Wijemanne, Wijebandara eliminated number three seed Savit Weerasinghe.

 

Results

Men’s Singles Quarter-finals

Luca Knese beat Thehan Wijemanne 6-2, 6-4

Sankha Atukorale beat Dumindu Dilum 6-2, 6-0

Vibuda Wijebandara beat Savit Weerasinghe 6-4, 6-2,

Kiran Vairavanathan beat Gayanath Senadeera 7-6, 6-2

Women’s Singles Quarter-finals

Janali Manamperi beat Sethmi Sumanaweera 6-1, 6

Dinethya Dharmaratne beat Vonara de Alwis 7-5, 6-3

Savini Jayasuriya beat Dewmini Warnasuriya 6-0, 6-1

Tania Doloswala beat Nelini Jayasuriya 6-4, 6-3

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