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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.



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Ahinsa becomes youngest medallist at Commonwealth Games  

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Eighteen-year-old Nethmi Ahinsa from little known Indiminna, Pannala became Sri Lanka’s youngest medallist at the Commonwealth Games as she beat Australia’s Irene Symeonidis in the 57kg weight class to win a bronze medal in wrestling in Birmingham on Friday.  She also became the country’s first medallist in the not so popular sport as she beat her Australian counterpart 10-0 in the freestyle event in the bronze medal fight.

She had to settle for the bronze medal after being eliminated by Indian Anshu Malik in the semi-final bought.   The wrestler from Welpalla Maha Vidyalaya advanced to the semi-final with a 10-0 victory over 34 year-old Cameroon athlete Joseph Emilienne Essombe Tiako. She hails from a family of four children.

Following her victory, she thanked her parents for allowing her to engage in the sport and expressed her gratitude to T.S. Suranga Kumara who not only trained her but also looked after her providing nutrition and other needs.

She said that there had been so many stories and even films on how coaches go out of their way to help their athletes achieve success but her coach was a living example of such a story.

She took to wrestling after her friend Chamodya Keshani invited her to join training in 2018. Incidentally, Keshani too competed at the Commonwealth Games in the 53kgs weight class.

She said that she did not have a wrestling mattress when she first began training but later received the support of the national federation to obtain one. After doing well at recent junior events she had also received the support of Crysbro for nutrition and also trained abroad after National Olympic Committee identified her talent.

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Georgia Baker lands third gold of Games in road race

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Australia’s Georgia Baker claimed her third gold medal of the Commonwealth Games with victory in the road race in Warwick.The Australian team were well placed in the run in for a bunch sprint and gave Baker, who won gold on the track in the points race and team pursuit, the perfect lead out for her to come out on top in a time of two hours 44 minutes and 46 seconds.

Scotland’s Neah Evans finished strongly but the line came too soon and she had to settle for silver with Baker’s compatriot Sarah Roy taking bronze, with the leading 24 riders all finishing on the same time.Baker was quick to pay tribute to her team-mates after the Australian train helped set up the victory.

Baker said: “This one is extra special. It was a real team effort.

“I wish I could split this medal into six, it was real credit to the team and I’m glad I could pull it off for them.

“There was a little bit of pressure coming in but we also knew we had one of the strongest teams here. The girls did an amazing job covering all the moves.

“For them to nail the final lead out made my ride so easy. I finished with fresh legs and that was the goal. I did the sprint and got my hands across the line.

“From the start of the race it was, if the race went the way we wanted. If it was going to be a bunch sprint I would be sprinting, if it was going to be an aggressive and hard race where the other nations were going to make it super hard, then potentially Alex [Manly] would be sprinting.

“We made the call out there with about 20km to go and I was feeling good so we stuck to the plan and the girls [the Australia cyclists] led me out beautifully.”

Scotland went into the race with just two riders instead of the maximum allowed six riders per team and Evans set the tactic was to keep the workload low and cover any moves from the favourites.

She said: “We knew there were a few big, strong teams here, so the plan was to just try and follow any moves and don’t actually do any work.

“Then, if it came to a bunch sprint, we would do what we could (and) wing it. It worked pretty well.”

Evans has won two silvers and a bronze, but added: “I will have to come back in four years as there is one missing that I really want to try and get. But it has been a brilliant Games for me.” (www.birmingham2022.com)

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Isipatana hang on to down Joes 16-13

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by a Special Sports Correspondent

Isipatana College did well to overcome stiff resistance from St. Joseph’s College and record an exciting 16-13 win in the second match of the ‘Super Round’ Inter-school under 19 league rugby tournament match worked off at Havelock Park yesterday.Isipatana taking a comfortable 7-0 lead at the ‘breather’ suddenly found the going tough when the Josephians came back strongly with an improved performance in the second half.

It was all happening for both teams in the second half. Isipatana were made to sweat in the second half because of two yellow cards to their players and Joes earning a try, a conversion and two penalties to boost their score. The Josephians too had a yellow card shown to one of its players in the first half.But if there was one player who stood strong like a wall for Isipatana it was winger Rinesh Silva who handled kicking duties with the accuracy of a professional. He slotted in three well-taken penalties in the second half and kept the score board ticking for Ispatana.

Joes produced the scares for Isipatana seven minutes from the end when number eight Naveen Marasinghe crashed in for a try. Ruchira Rodrigo slotted in the conversion, but the Joes were foiled there onwards by a determined Isipatana defence.The game was forced to a ten minute stoppage in the first half due to the absence of an ambulance on the field. At the time of the interruption to the game both ambulances hired for the game were busy taking two injured Josephians to hospital. Referee Yatawara came in for much praise for looking into player safety and being adamant that an ambulance must be present at the match venue for the game to continue.

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