by Reemus Fernando
Sixteen-year-old Nethmika Madushani Herath who won the long jump event at last week’s Junior Selection Trial was just an average performer four years ago. The youngster first attended Yakunnawa Kanishta Vidyalaya, a school in remote Medagama in Bibile before her notable feats at local Zonal competitions influenced her parents to admit her to Nannapurawa MV where she came under the supervision of Krishantha Kumara.
“She was doing high jump first and we got her to train long jump. Now she is doing long jump, triple jump and the hurdles,” Kumara told The Island after Nethmika produced an impressive 5.73 metres to turn tables on Dananjana Sithmini of Lyceum International, Wattala on her final jump.
Both Kumara and his wife Inoka Sanjeewani, a former Uva Province Champion, are Physical Training Instructors at Nannapurawa MV. They were among a handful of PTIs to have continued training school athletes during the pandemic. The results of their perseverance during these trouble times started to produce rich dividend when she was placed third at the Selection Trial for Under-20 World Championships held earlier this year.
“Due transportation difficulties we came in a hired vehicle for that meet. She did not have enough rest before she started competing and could not display her true potential at that meet. It was the first time in two years that she was competing on a synthetic track,” said Kumara.
Competing in the Under-20 age category in that event, she cleared 5.56 metres to be placed third. The winner Ishara Samanmalee cleared 5.62 metres.
What does her feat of 5.73 metres indicate?
Nethmika is among hundreds of young athletes to have dearly missed competition opportunities during the last two years due to the Covid 19 pandemic. When she last competed at the All Island Schools Games Athletics Championships in 2019 she was placed second in the Under-16 long jump with a leap of 5.51 metres. She was expecting to make amends and win that age category event at the 2020 edition. But with both the 2020 and 2021 seasons lost due to the pandemic, the athletes in the caliber of Nethmika have found the Trial meets organized by Sri Lanka Athletics to be the only opportunities to test their skills.
Nethmika’s winning feat of 5.73 metres on Saturday is one of the best performances in her age category in Sri Lanka. At the last All Island Schools Games Competition (2019) the girls Under-18 long jump gold was won with a feat of 5.62 metres (Sadeepa Handerson). At the last Asian Youth Championships in 2019, the girls’ long jump bronze medal went to a performance of 5.73 metres, the exact performance Nethmika produced.
What was impressive about Nethmika’s performance was the way she consistently cleared the 5.50 metres mark. Her six jumps were measured at 5.58m, 5.55m, 5.48m, 5.38m, 5.58m and 5.73m. In the triple jump she cleared 11.77 metres, the best performance by a female athlete in the Under-18 age category during the last three years.
She is not the first and only athlete to have produced such feats. In fact in the same competition Lyceum athlete Dananjana Sithmini cleared 5.60 metres. There had been numerous athletes who had excelled like Nethmika but many such female athletes had given up ahead of O/L examination.
Nethmika, who is the third in a family of four girls, is a keen student and would want to continue higher education like her two older sisters who are university students. So far her farmer parents have given the necessary support for her to prosper in both studies and sports. But not all scholar athletes of Nannapurawa MV had been lucky. According to Kumara a number of scholar students of Nannapurawa MV who had excelled in other sports had given up at Nethmika’s age to concentrate on studies.
Nethmika is likely to be selected in the team for 2022 Asian Youth Championships. Hopefully that will be an impetus for Nethmika to persevere in both sports and studies.
Name: H.M. Nethmika Madushani Herath
Date of Birth:
4th March 2005
M.G. Krishantha Kumara and Inoka Sanjeewani
Long Jump, Triple Jump, Hurdles
Thehan clinches men’s singles tennis title
106th Colombo Championships
Royal College player Thehan Wijemanne clinched the men’s open singles title of the 106th Colombo Championships as he beat Chathurya Nilaweera in the final played at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Wednesday.
Wijemanne who partners Nilaweera in the men’s open doubles was tied 1-1 in the singles final before pulling off a 10-7 win to seal his victory. The final scores read 6-4, 4-6, 10-7.
The Royalist beat Kiran Vairavanathan and Archana Lokuge in a row to book his final place to meet the champion of the Under 18 age category.
Wijemanne registered a 6-2, 6-2 victory against Lokuge in the semis after beating Vairavanathan 4-2, 3-5, 11-9 in the quarter-final.
It is the first Colombo Championships singles title for Wijemanne who will celebrate his 18th birthday later this month. He is also the reigning Clay Courts Singles champion after winning the March final against Luca Knese.
Meanwhile, Gehansa Methnadi of Musaeus College reached the Under 12 girls’ singles final after recording a convincing straight sets win in the semi-final played on Wednesday. She beat Movindi Fernando 4-1, 4-1 in the afternoon.
In an Under 12 girls’ singles quarter-final Akeesha Silva beat Venuli Jayasinghe 4-1, 4-0 to reach the semi-final.
Karunaratne climbs up in Test Player Rankings
Sri Lanka’s win in the first match of the ICC Men’s Test Championship has put the team on top of the table powered by MRF (on percentage points), and several players including skipper Dimuth Karunaratne have improved their rankings after the first Test in Galle.
Captain Karunaratne’s Player of the Match effort of 147 and 83 has lifted him four places to seventh, just one below his career-best sixth position attained in August 2019. Former captains Angelo Mathews (up two places to 23rd) and Dinesh Chandimal (up four places to 46th) have also advanced.
Left-arm spinners Lasith Embuldeniya (up four places to 37th) and Praveen Jayawickrama (up six places to 44th) and off-spinner Ramesh Mendis (up 28 places to 57th) have improved in the rankings for bowlers.
Fast bowler Shaheen Afridi has made it to the top five of the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s Test Player Rankings for the first time in his career after a fine show in the first Test against Bangladesh which Pakistan won by eight wickets.
The 21-year-old left-arm bowler, who grabbed seven wickets including a haul of five for 32 in the second innings of the Chittagong Test, has moved up three places to fifth position after overtaking James Anderson, Kagiso Rabada and Neil Wagner.
Shaheen’s new-ball partner Hasan Ali too is at a career-best position after finishing with a similar seven-wicket match haul that included a five-for in the first innings. Hasan has advanced five places to 11th place. His previous best in Tests was 14th, reached in May this year.
Pakistan’s opening batters were not the ones to be left behind. Abid Ali may have missed out on a century in each innings but his scores of 133 and 91 helped him shoot up 27 slots to a career-best 20th position while Abdullah Shafique enters the rankings at 83rd with scores of 52 and 73.
For Bangladesh, Mushfiqur Rahim is up four places to 19th with scores of 91 and 16 while Liton Das has moved up 26 places to a career-best 31st position after accruing 114 and 59. Left-arm spinner Taijul Islam has progressed two places to 23rd after an eight-wicket match haul that included seven scalps in the first innings.
The thrilling draw in Kanpur between India and New Zealand had quite a few performances from either side that reflect in the latest weekly update that also includes the first Test between Sri Lanka and the West Indies at Galle, which the host side won by 187 runs.
Debutant Shreyas Iyer’s Player of the Match effort of 105 and 65 helped him enter the rankings in 74th position while opener Shubman Gill (up six places to 66th) and Wriddhiman Saha (up nine places to 99th) also made notable progress after notching half-centuries.
Ravindra Jadeja is up two places to 19th among bowlers with five wickets in the match and is also up one place to second among all-rounders. Ravichandran Ashwin is the third-ranked all-rounder and 79th among batters.
For New Zealand, Tom Latham’s knocks of 95 and 52 place him back in the top 10 as he goes up from 14th to ninth. Fast bowler Kyle Jamieson is ninth among bowlers, his three wickets in each innings resulting in a gain of six places. Tim Southee has gained 15 rating points to reach within one point of second-placed Ashwin (840) after his eight-wicket match haul.
Mickey’s ‘sloppy cricketers’ hand Windies the edge
Rex Clementine in Galle
Sri Lanka Head Coach Mickey Arthur once told The Island that he hates ‘sloppy cricketers’. Given how Sri Lanka approached batting in their second innings here in Galle yesterday, the 53-year-old would have given them a firm dressing-down. Having conceded a first innings lead of 49 in the second Test, Sri Lanka had to bat well to set West Indies a decent target. With the wicket turning square, the batsmen already had their work cut down and to gift West Indies two wickets through run outs was not ‘sloppy cricket’ but committing hara-kiri.
There’s a lot at stake here. Sri Lanka have never lost a Test match at home to the Windies and everyone is looking forward to give Arthur a grand send off. To make things worse, Angelo Mathews is down with a hamstring injury and that leaves a huge hole in the batting line-up. Sri Lanka’s batsmen barring Dimuth Karunaratne have been susceptible against spin and unless they bat out at least two full sessions on day four, history could be in the making for West Indies.
Dimuth was the first to be dismissed. Having pushed one to backward of point, he attempted a risky single, but instead of rushing he was watching the fielder. Kyle Mayers picked up the ball one-handed and threw down the stumps with a direct hit to find the batsman well short.
The comedy of errors continued when Oshada Fernando was run out with the total on 39. Having pushed one to point, Oshada was walking down the track, half-hearted not knowing whether a run was on. There was none there and by the time he was sent back by the non-striker it was all too late and not even a dive could save him.
Sri Lanka’s batsmen spoiled the brilliant efforts of their spinners who did well to bowl out West Indies for 253. The tourists were well placed at one stage at 166 for two but then Ramesh Mendis’ career best figures of six for 70 saw Sri Lanka bounce back. West Indies at one stage slumped to 208 for eight, losing six wickets for 42 runs. But a ninth wicket stand of 38 runs between Mayers and Veerasammy Permaul ensured they ended up with a decent lead.
Kraigg Brathwaite was brilliant as he top scored with 72 runs that came off 185 deliveries with nine fours. A peach of a delivery from Lasith Embuldeniya accounted for the captain. The ball pitched outside of the leg-stump, spun viciously past the right-hander and clipped the top of off-stump.
Spinners accounted for all ten wickets to fall with Embuldeniya and Praveen Jayawickrama sharing four wickets between them well supporting Mendis.
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