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National football team to leave for Korea

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National football team will leave for Korean Republic on May 31 for the preliminary second round qualification for the FIFA World Cup 2022. The team captained by Sujan Perera will encounter Lebanon and Korea in Korea.

Sri Lanka will be facing Lebanon on June 5 at 11.30 am and Republic of Korea on June 9 at 4.30 pm. Both the matches will be played at Goyang Stadium, Goyang City.

The squad of 22 players and 11 officials of the Sri Lanka National Team are given below.

The squad of 22 players:

Sujan Perera (Captain), Prabath Ruwan Arunasiri, R.P. Danushka, Harsha Fernando, Roshan Appuhamy, Chamod Dilshan, Charitha Bandara, Duckson Puslas, Chathuranga Madushan, Marvin Hamilton, Chalana Chameeera, Jude Supan, Mohamed Musthaq, Mohamed Fazal, Kavindu Ishan (V. Capt.), Dillon Senan de Silva, Waseem Razeek (V. Capt.), Mohamed Aakib, Asikur Rahuman, Mohamed Hasmeer, Suoun Dananjaya, Rifkhan Mohamed. Officials: Amir Alagic (Head Coach), Asif Ansar (Manager), Amir Doksanaltic (Asst Coach & GK Coach), Dr. M.R.F. Jayasuriya (Team Doctor), M.I.T. Maduwantha Bandara (Media Officer), M. Eesaa Radhee Ibrahim (Technical Officer), Chathuranga Gamlath (Fitness Coach), Sanka Vidanaarachci (Performance Analyist), Muhiseen Abdul Barsith (Physiotheropist), Jeevana Caldera (Masseur), Roshan Pradeep (Kitman).



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Meet Harijan, the 400 metres hurdler at Sydney Olympics  

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Waiting for the next Olympic hurdler – Part VIII 

by Reemus Fernando  

The last Sri Lankan man to run 400 metres hurdles at an Olympics is Harijan Ratnayake. That was 21 years ago. He will be in Tokyo next month. Ratnayake who holds the national record of the discipline will not be running hurdles there. Instead he is accompanying his charge Kumudu Priyanga for the Paralympics. Asian Para Games medallist Priyanga is not a hurdler. She will compete in the 100 metres and the long jump in the T47 category.  

“I do not have hurdlers training under me,” says Harijan who alongside Asian medallist Asoka Jayasundara are the only men to know how it feels like to have run the event under 50 seconds.  

Rajitha Niranjan Rajakaruna who won the bronze medal in the 400 metres flat event at the last National Championship is trained by Harijan. He clocked 47.21 seconds at the nationals. According to Harijan athletes willing to take up the 400 metres hurdles and ready to work hard are in short supply. “When Rajakaruna came to me he was running 400 metres in 57 seconds or somewhere around that. To become a 400 metres hurdler you have to be a good 400 metres sprinter as well. When the base is prepared he could be trained for 400 metres hurdles.” 

“I see many future prospects. But I can train only if they come to me,” says Harijan who earmarks Asian Junior Championship (2018) medallist Pasindu Kodikara as one.  

Harijan too was not a hurdler initially. He reached the pinnacle of his athletics career, established records and went on to represent Sri Lanka at Sydney Olympics when he trained under S.M.G. Banda, who was among the best in the business then. Harijan was introduced to Banda by incumbent president of Sri Lanka Athletics Palitha Fernando, who had been in the athletics administration since 1979. Things have change dramatically within the last two decades as athletes have continued to remain with their school coaches even after reaching senior level.   

After Duncan White won silver in the 400 metres hurdles in 1948 Olympics it took Sri Lanka more than five decades to qualify an athlete for the 400 metres hurdles. A clue to the question why had it taken so many years to unearth someone like Ratnayake might lie in a stack of books in an iron cupboard in the department of sports at the Ministry of Education. The event results of all athletics disciplines of the All Island Schools Games are carefully stored according to their year in a steel cupboard at Isurupaya. Our search for the 400 metres hurdles results of all Schools Games found that the event had been only introduced in early 90s. According to Sri Lanka Athletics statistician the Public Schools meet which was the forerunner to the All Island Schools Games had only the 300 metres hurdles.  

Had Ratnayake competed in 400 metres hurdles in his last year, the All Island Schools Games results of mid 90s should have had his performances. The name Ratnayake is not there in the final of any meet in that period. However in one particular meet heats performances shows an athlete from Dharmadutha Vidyalaya, Badulla being placed third in a heat. “When the championship was held in Anuradhapura I went to see the ruins after the heats. I did not even see the final.”   

However it took only five years for him to be Sri Lanka’s number one hurdler and win medals at Asian level and represent Sri Lanka at Olympics. The right athlete training under the right coach can bring the best out of both.

 

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Time to kick out optional training

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The Australians are pioneers in coaching. Having added science into coaching, they took the game to a new level in mid 1990s. Others followed suit. But it’s time to also kick out some of the old Aussie habits. Such as ‘optional training’.  

When Ricky Ponting’s side arrived in Colombo for a lengthy tour in 2004, their coach John Buchanan made training before a game optional. Matthew Hayden went fishing, Shane Warne rushed to the casino while Andrew Symonds was at the bar.

Buchanan was handling a bunch of professionals. Hayden’s training schedule is mind-boggling. The team hotel the Aussies were staying had  a modern gym. They open at 5 am but on Sundays, they open only at 6 am. When Hayden walked in at 5 am on a Sunday, he found the gym not operating. But by next Sunday it was fixed and since then it’s been opening at 5 am thanks to early bird Hayden.

If you ask a current Sri Lankan cricketer, he would not know what time the gym opens at Cinnamon Grand but he would be invariably aware what time Cheers pub closes.

As we reported yesterday, several young players who have just made it to the side skipped practices when it was made optional a few days ago.

Professional cricketers they maybe but their conduct is far from being professional. The Sri  Lankans have one of the youngest sides in the world and they also have world’s worst fielding team. Many are the areas where improvements can be made and it is earnestly hoped that this concept of optional training is thrown out of the window.

They have been taught a few harsh lessons such as being made to forego central contracts. While administrators can be a bit lenient on that and offer them central contracts, there should be no tolerance on concepts like optional training. Until they secure qualification for the World Cup at least ban optional training.

If you thought that the attitude of senior players and their lethargic attitude to training had left us in a mess, the youngsters who are yet to establish their places in the side are sending the wrong signals. This must be stopped. Soon.

They aren’t any professionals in our cricket. They are all cry babies who take to social media tilting at windmills.

They are expected to do two changes for today’s game leaving out Lakshan Sandakan and Kasun Rajitha. Ramesh Mendis and Lahiru Kumara are likely to replace them.

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Youth hurdlers reviving White’s legacy at Asian level  

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Waiting for the next Olympic hurdler – Part VII 

by Reemus Fernando  

Sri Lanka has excelled in sprint events at South Asian and Asian athletics events and the general belief is that the country’s strength is in sprints. But of all Olympic track and field disciplines sprint events were the least competed at Olympics by Sri Lankan athletes during the last four editions.  The 400 metres hurdles, the event in which Duncan White won the country its first Olympic medal in 1948, is the least discussed discipline with regard to medal prospects at the international level now. But quite conspicuously according to our analysis, the 400 metres hurdles has been the most medal producing track and field event for Sri Lanka at youth level in Asia.  

The last two pieces of this series discussed what became of two 400 metres hurdlers who excelled at the first Asian Youth Athletics Championship in 2015. Though the 2015 edition was the first Asian track event for youth athletes (Under-18), the Asian Youth Games, which was introduced as the Asian version of the Youth Olympics in 2009, also presented a valuable opportunity for youth in Asia to gain international exposure. 

In 2013 Sri Lanka won four medals in the Games held in Nanjing, China. Of them, two were from hurdles events. While Nirmali Madushika and Dilhani Fernando won the 400 metres and 800 metres bronze medals in the female category at the 2013 event, Akila Ravisanka and Anuradha Vidusanka won boys’ 110 metres and 400 metres hurdles events respectively. Sri Lanka certainly had an opportunity to build on this success had the next Games were held in Sri Lanka as scheduled. Hambantota had been awarded the 2017 edition of the Games but it did not see the light of day as it was later awarded to Jakarta before it was cancelled.  

At the 2015 Asian Youth Athletics Championships in Doha, when Yamani Dulanjali won gold in the girls’ 400 metres hurdles, the corresponding boys’ event final featured two Sri Lankan hurdlers. Both were in contention for medals but Uditha Chandrasena had to settle for fourth place. St. Sylvester’s College, Kandy hurdler Harshana Rajapaksha clinched silver with a time of 52.88 seconds.  

Two years later Navodya Sankalpa from Mahinda College, Galle won the bronze at the Asian Youth Championship with a time of 53.86 seconds.  

Meanwhile, at Asian Junior events, Kaushalya Madushani won a silver in the 400 metres hurdles with a 62.31 seconds feat in 2014. Both Navodya and Madushani were still engaged in athletics when the pandemic struck Sri Lanka in 2020. Madushani is among a very few female athletes to have continued in athletics after leaving school. She has two medals from the last two South Asian Games as well. 

The achievements of country’s youth athletes at Asian level can be largely attributed to the competition at the school level. Despite all hindrances including lack of hurdles and encouragement for the event, there are a number of schools that take up this discipline seriously. Thanks to their efforts there is quite a competition in hurdles events at the youth level. Hence medal success at the Asian Youth level. In general, all track and field events see a drop of standards when athletes reach junior (Under-20) level. There is a drastic drop in the number of participants in hurdles events in the Under-20 category. That further dwindles at the senior level. Results at an international level are quite predictable.  

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