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No one from curfew areas when top athletes flex their muscle

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Nimali Liyanarachchi is among many leading athletes preparing to take part in the low key event.

by Reemus Fernando

Middle distance runner Nimali Liyanarachchi has spent nearly a year without competitions. A gold medal hopeful at the last South Asian Games, Nimali met with an accident on the eve of Sri Lanka team’s departure for the Games last year. She is among dozens of top athletes preparing to assess their strengths after a long layoff at the time trial scheduled for the weekend as Sri Lanka Athletics decided to go ahead with the low key affair to provide competition-starved track and field athletes a platform to flex their muscle.

“There was lot of uncertainty due to the Covid 19 pandemic. But if it is held I would be taking part in it. I have not taken part in an athletic even for nearly a year now,” Liyanarachchi told The Island after Sri Lanka Athletics head Palitha Fernando confirmed the event yesterday.

“There were lot of interruptions to training programs due to Covid 19 health conditions. But I managed to train,” she said.

The track and field governing body has restricted the participation for a selected group of top athletes. Athletes in the elite pool and national pool and participants of last Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Championships and Asian Junior Championships will take part in the two-day event starting on Saturday.

Sri Lanka Athletics had earlier planed to conduct a National Trial open to both senior and junior athletes from Friday but changed their plans after the rise of a second wave of Covid-19.

The present health situation has forced officials to follow a long process to obtain permission for the event. According to national coach Y.K. Kularatne, Sri Lanka Athletics has to provide details of the participants to the Sports Medical Unit which will then seek permission from the Medical Officer of Health of the area.

Athletes and officials from several areas in Gampaha, where police curfew is in force, will not be able to take part due to strict health guidelines.

There will be only a limited number of track and field events as only the top notch athletes are taking part.

Following are the events: Men’s 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, long jump, triple jump, javelin throw, Women’s: 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, long jump, triple jump, javelin throw, 3000m steeple, 100 metres hurdles. (RF)



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Prabath Jayasuriya crowned ICC Player of the Month for July

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Sri Lanka’s newest spin sensation Prabath Jayasuriya and England’s Emma Lamb, who starred atop the order in her side’s whitewash series victory over South Africa were announced as the winners of the ICC Player of the Month awards for July 2022. The International Cricket Council (ICC) made the announcement yesterday.

Jayasuriya claims the ICC Men’s Player of the Month award on the back of an outstanding series of displays with the ball, where his remarkable haul of wickets sees him crowned ahead of rival contenders England’s Jonny Bairstow – who won the Men’s award back in June – and French youngster Gustav McKeon.

During Sri Lanka’s three Test matches on home soil in July, Jayasuriya stepped into the squad for the first time in the longest format and made an immediate impact against formidable opponents. After his side was humbled in the first Test defeat to Australia, the spinner celebrated a prolific Test debut, taking six for 118 in the first innings, and following up with an even more impressive six for 59 in the second to claim the final Test and draw the series. Jayasuriya kept his momentum going into the two-Test showdown against Pakistan later in the month, taking seventeen wickets across the series and ending July with staggering figures of 29 wickets at an average of 20.37.

On being named the ICC Men’s Player of the Month, Jayasuriya said: ‘’I am delighted with this announcement, and wish to thank the fans for voting me as the ICC Men’s Player of the Month. Certainly it has been an incredible month for me, as I made the Test debut, and also got the opportunity to contribute for my team to level the Test series played against Australia and Pakistan.”

“I take this opportunity to thank my fans, teammates, coaches, family and friends for helping my journey, and thrilled with what I am experiencing at this moment in my life.”

Irfan Pathan, former India international and ICC Player of the Month voting panel member, said: “Being a newcomer to Test cricket and starting with two five-wicket hauls in your first match is extraordinary, and it’s all the more impressive against a team like Australia. A tally of 29 wickets in just three Tests is too good to be overlooked and for that, he is my ICC Men’s Player of the Month.”

Emma Lamb was voted the ICC Women’s Player of the Month for July following her thrilling start to life opening the batting in England’s victorious ODI series victory over South Africa. Lamb consistently laid the foundations for her side to claim victory in each of the three matches, with her most notable contribution coming in the first match in Northampton.

Her outstanding 102 in which she displayed a wide array of classy stroke play set her on course for a stellar month, and she followed up this milestone by posting two further half-centuries to strengthen her credentials as a supremely talented top order batter, with a very bright future ahead.

On winning the ICC Women’s Player of the Month award for July, Lamb commented: “It’s very exciting to have been awarded the ICC Women’s Player of the Month award for July. I’m very happy to have earned my spot at the top of the order in the Test and ODI team and it’s been brilliant to be able to score some runs and help the team win.

“Everyone in the squad contributed to our multi-format series win against South Africa so I just want to keep scoring runs for the team – I feel very lucky that my performances across the last month have been rewarded and I hope to carry on my good form.”

Lamb secures the ICC Women’s Player of the Month award at the first time of asking, overcoming fellow nominees; England’s Nat Sciver and India’s Renuka Singh.

Fans can continue to vote every month for their favourite male and female cricketers across all formats of international cricket as part of the ICC Player of the Month initiative by registering at www.icc-cricket.com/awards.

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Sri Lanka off to great start

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Davis Cup

Yashitha de Silva, Harshana Godamanne and doubles pair Thehan Wejemanne and Chathurya Nilaweera gave hosts a robust start to their Davis Cup campaign as they beat Bangladesh 3-0 in the opening encounter at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Monday.

The seven nation event started yesterday with the hosts taking on Bangladesh in a Group A encounter. The other team in group A is Kyrgyzstan.

In the first singles match De Silva beat Ranjan Ram 6-3, 6-0, before Godamanne registered 6-1, 6-3 win against Rubel Hossain in the second singles match.

In the doubles match Wijemanne and Nilaweera beat Kawsar Ali and MD Rana 6-0, 6-1.

Sri Lanka will next meet Kyrgyzstan on August 11. The tournament will conclude on August 13.

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Troubles not over for junior athletics team

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by Reemus Fernando

A girl and two boys of Sri Lanka’s junior track and field team have tested positive for Covid 19 prior to their departure to Sri Lanka after the conclusion of the World Junior Athletics Championships in Cali, Colombia on Sunday.

The team of seven which endured many difficulties before leaving for Colombia did well during the World Junior Championships with four athletes advancing from the first round and two producing national junior records. Now with part of the team returning positive results for Covid 19 they will have to undergo seven days of mandatory quarantine.

Sri Lanka Athletics sources said that Susantha Fernando, the manager on tour was remaining in Colombia to accompany the athletes undergoing week long isolation, while team coach Badra Gunawardena, the female official in the team was on her way home.

A source close athletics said that Gunawardena’s return without staying with the team would likely to cause trouble as Ministry of Education protocols require a female official to stay with the team when there are school girls in teams.

Sources also confirmed that four athletes who left Colombia on Sunday were not accompanied by an official. The four school athletes were to be joined by coach Gunawardena in Panama, their first transit.

The team remained uncertain of their participation in the World Junior Championship until the eleventh hour due to lack of funds. After media reported their plight sports authorities intervened. However undue delays in obtaining visas and unavailability of air tickets made officials to cancel the tour before a media backlash forced officials to make eleventh hour interventions to take the tour back on track.

But the eleventh hour intervention and flight delays meant that two athletes missed their pet events after arriving late in Cali.

However of the six athletes who took part in the championships four advanced from the first round and three reached personal best performances. Two athletes, javelin thrower Rumesh Tharanga and 400 metres hurdler Dhanuka Dharshana established national junior records. Triple jumper and Pasindu Malshan and thrower Tharanga reached the finals of their respective events.

With three athletes and an official having to stay seven days in isolation the team will have to bear additional costs.

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