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National marathon, race walking, cycling at Kataragama in October

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by Reemus Fernando

The National Marathon and three other grueling road events of the National Sports Festival will be held on October 10 and 11 at Kataragama. The Department of Sports Development of the Ministry of Sports sent documents pertaining to this major sports event to the Provincial Directors of Sports yesterday.

“We will conduct the event at Kataragama since it is convenient to provide logistics,” Jayantha Siyamudali who has been assigned to organise the event told The Island.

The Race Walking and Cycling events of the National Sports Festival will be held in Kataragama on October 10.

“Like in the last year we are going to conduct it as an open event to boost participation. However all applications should come through the Directors of Sports of each province,” said Siyamudali.

The decision to conduct it as an open event lessen the burden of Provincial authorities who otherwise have to conduct their own Provincial distance events to select participants for the national events.

Closing date for applications is September 30.

The decision to conduct the marathon. Race walking and cycling events is further confirmation that the National Sports Festival would be held later this year.

The three grueling road events of the national sports festival will be the first major sports events conducted by the Department of Sports development after all sports came to a halt due to the corona virus pandemic in March.

The national marathon is returning to Kataragama after a lapse of seven years.

Sri Lanka Army’s Tissa Gunasekara was the winner when the event was held at Kataragama in 2013.

Last year the event was conducted at Anuradhapura.

Dhammika Arunasiri in the men’s category and Nisansala Bandara in the women’s category are the defending champions.

Country’s distance runners have been yearning for competitions since the last National Marathon.

Marathoners were hampered by the absence of top events including the Colombo Marathon organised by LSR following the Easter Sunday blasts in 2019 and due to the covid 19 pandemic this year.

Many international marathons including major Asian marathons have been cancelled due to the pandemic.

This year’s edition of the LSR Colombo Marathon too remain doubtful. The annual event which is the only international marathon held in Sri Lanka is held in the first week of October.

A top official of the Lanka Sportreizen said that a fresh request to conduct the event has been sent to the AIMS, the world governing body of marathons.

Sports

Now, Bangladesh ask for three day quarantine

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by Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka Cricket has been left with Hobson’s choice and postpone the three match Test series against Bangladesh after their cricket board had informed on Friday that they are willing to follow only three days of quarantine in Colombo ahead of the series.

Earlier, Bangladesh had informed SLC that they were willing to do only seven days of quarantine as opposed to two weeks of mandatory quarantine stipulated by the Health Ministry.

Sunday Island

learns that SLC had reached an agreement with Health Ministry to reduce the quarantine days to seven and then send all players and support staff into ‘a bubble’ and resume training ahead of the series.

However, with the tourists asking for a further reduction of quarantine days, there are doubts that the series will take place as expected next month. They are already in quarantine in Dhaka.

“We will know what are the guidelines the Health Ministry wants us to follow by Monday, but we don’t think that three days of quarantine is feasible. We know that the Health Ministry and the Task Force established to battle COVID-19 have done a terrific job in containing the pandemic and need to follow their guidelines,” an SLC official told Sunday Island.

“The problem is one of the Bangladesh players and a member of the support staff have been tested positive and we get the feeling the Health Ministry would not want to take any chances. So we will wait and see”

Bangladesh batsman Saif Hassan and trainer Nick Lee were tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. Interestingly, Lee was Sri Lanka’s trainer until recently before he joined Bangladesh.

The guidelines that Health Ministry issues to resume international cricket will be passed onto other cricket playing nations who are set to play bilateral series in Sri Lanka. SLC officials were not too sure whether they would be able to have any international cricket this year.

The Board however is confident that the inaugural Lanka Premier League tournament will take place as scheduled in November. SLC said that good progress is being made in organizing the event and a grand show is expected in November.

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“Crysbro Next Champ” join forces with NOC to empower young athletes

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Under the agreement, Crysbro will serve as the sponsor for 20 deserving athletes scouted by NOCSL, with potential to qualify for the Youth Olympic Games 2022, Asian Games 2022, Commonwealth Games 2022, and South Asian Games 2021.(Pic by Jude Denzil Pathiraja)

As part of its ongoing mission to empower and support the aspirations of young people in rural Sri Lanka, poultry producer Crysbro signed a landmark MOU with the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOCSL) to launch the ‘NOCSL-CRYSBRO Next Champ’ scholarship programme. The objective of this magnanimous partnership is to uplift talented young Sri Lankan athletes to the international sports arena.

Under the agreement, Crysbro will serve as the sponsor for 20 deserving athletes scouted by NOCSL, with potential to qualify for the Youth Olympic Games 2022, Asian Games 2022, Commonwealth Games 2022, and South Asian Games 2021.

Sri Lanka’s living athletic legend, Olympic medal winner, Susanthika Jayasinghe praised the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka for joining hands with Crysbro in this multimillion rupee sponsorship to empower and support deserving athletes from Sri Lanka’s rural settings.

“We are extremely honoured to join forces with the National Olympic Committee to unearth and groom the future torch bearers of Sri Lankan sports. While it is certainly rewarding to help these young athletes realize their aspirations of winning a medal at these games, our primary focus will be on supporting the journey, the strategy, and the holistic development of each athlete which involves a combination of physical, mental, and psychological training. However, at the core of this initiative, is a deep desire to elevate the experiences of many resilient Sri Lankan athletes in rural areas with big dreams but with very little financial backing to make them a reality,” Crysbro Senior Marketing Manager Amores Sellar said.

In addition, this partnership will see the launch of an online portal, which for the very first time in Sri Lanka will enable members of the public to financially sponsor rural athletes, school sports associations, and sports clubs and chambers. All funds collected through this portal will be fully disbursed to the entities they were contributed, a process carefully overlooked and strictly managed by NOCSL.

The scholarships will cover costs such as nutrition, transportation costs, coaching fees, accommodation, logistics such as clothing, sports gear, and medical expenses necessary for the training, grooming and development of each selected athlete. The programme will also give athletes access to a combination of high-value tools and world-class mentors, including foreign training exposures.

“Our partnership with Crysbro offers a unique opportunity for home grown athletes to succeed in the global arena. Over the course of two years, they will have access to numerous tools that will assuage the challenges they may face due to inherent financial and situational constraints, and flourish in a sustainable support system that identifies, nurtures, and maximizes their potential. We are excited to kick off this venture as one which would undoubtedly contribute greatly to furthering the Nation’s agenda for sports,” stated National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka, Secretary General, Maxwell De Silva.

The ‘NOCSL-CRYSBRO Next Champ’ scholarship programme is phase-II of Crysbro’s ‘Next Champ’ scholarship programme, which up to date has groomed and supported the dreams of 120 young athletes from the under-privileged regions of the country. The initiative has also successfully produced a collection of athletes who secured gold and silver medals at the recent South Asian Games in Nepal.

Crysbro Next Champ not only recognizes and rewards young sporting talent from all corners of the country, but also budding athletes from multiple sporting disciplines with guidance from experts on aspects such as proper training methods and a suitable diet. The project’s founding vision sought to bolster Crysbro’s already significant social contribution as a key pillar of the country’s rural economy plus creating sporting opportunities and promoting the message of staying physically and mentally active.

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Dean Jones – Sri Lanka’s friend indeed

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by Rex Clementine

The Aussies were in Galle for the first Test of the series in 2004 and Dean Jones joked in commentary. He said that it took him less than four hours from Singapore to Katunayake but five hours to get to Galle from Katunayake! He was driving home some pertinent points. Travel in Sri Lanka before the highway days was a nightmare. Sri Lanka Cricket did not raise objections with the television company that employed Jones nor did the Sports Ministry. His criticism was well taken by all and sundry. Jones didn’t mince any words. He was a bold critic. As The Island’s former Editor Mr. Gamini Weerakoon used to say, ‘A good journalist works with his resignation letter in the pocket.’

Jones was a huge fan of Sri Lanka. After the death of Tony Greig, he was an ideal ambassador to promote tourism and he did a splendid job. Some of his best moments in commentary came in Sri Lanka.

He earned the nickname of ‘Professor Deano’ for the pre-match show that he did during a triangular series in Dambulla. Jones was dressed as a Professor giving the pitch report and supporting him was up and coming actress Anarkali Akarsha, just 18-years-old. The show was a hit and fans took an immediate liking to both the ex-cricketer and budding actresses.

Not that his career was entirely smooth. During a Test match at P. Sara Oval in 2006, Ten Sports fired him while the day’s play was in progress for calling Hashim Amla a ‘terrorist’. Jones was off air but the microphone in the studio had picked his remark. He apologized immediately and was reinstated a few months later.

The fact that he was shortlisted to take over from Graham Ford in 2017 as the national cricket team’s Head Coach was a poorly kept secret by Sri Lanka Cricket. The Island asked him what would be the first thing he would do if he got the job. Jones said, ‘ban f***ing football during training.’ The Sri Lankan cricket team’s obsession to engage in a game of football as warm-up before a day’s play and training was frowned upon by many given the high number of injuries it was causing.

Jones was a fine batsman and in his generation only Viv Richards played one-day cricket better. A smart thinker of the game, it was Jones’ bright idea to run the extra run on the throw in the vast Australian grounds. He earned a reputation as an excellent runner between the wickets and when asked what was his secret, he replied, ‘just common sense.’ Soon, others followed the extra run on the throw theory while playing in Australia and it paid rich dividends.

His finest hour in the sport came in Test cricket though during the tied Madras Test in 1986. Jones made a double hundred and the scorching heat took a toll on him. He was vomiting and feeling uneasy but did not throw it away. At the end of his 210, Jones was hospitalized. Coach Bob Simpson said that it was the greatest innings played for Australia. His final Test match was played in Moratuwa in 1992.

Jones was in Bombay doing studio shows for host broadcaster on IPL games. The Island learns that he had gone for a run in the morning and was with former fast bowler Brett Lee when he suffered a severe heart attack in the seven star hotel lobby at lunch time. Lee desperately tried to save him with CPR after Jones collapsed but for no avail.

He was 59

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