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
Shooting the Messenger
by Rex Clementine
History is full of instances where the messenger who brings the bad news face dire consequences. Many kings over the years have adopted this tactic in ancient times and rulers in the modern democracy are no different. Roshan Ranasinghe suffered a similar fate hours after revealing shocking details of corruption in Parliament as he was removed from his post as Minister of Sports, Youth Affairs and Irrigation.
The suspension that the international Cricket Council has imposed on Sri Lanka Cricket and shifting of next year’s Under-19 World Cup from Colombo to Johannesburg may have gone against the Polonnaruwa District MP.
But, what about the gentlemen who requested the ICC to suspend Sri Lanka Cricket? One is intrigued. Government appointed bodies have run cricket in places like Pakistan, South Africa and Afghanistan in recent times, but they were not penalized. So why Sri Lanka? Well, the reason being that it was SLC’s Executive Committee that asked the ICC Board to authorize the suspension. So, if Ranasinghe can be sacked for Sri Lanka’s suspension, should not the guys who requested the suspension suffer a similar fate?
It must be recalled that this Executive Committee of SLC has survived because a son of a VVIP Podujana Peramuna Politician protected their backs and went to the extent of issuing a back dated letter saving their skins. Those who sought political intervention then are now complaining when the tide has turned against them.
The trend in cricket circles is to get hold of the Sports Minister as soon as he is appointed and to keep him happy. Barring Mangala Samaraweera, Naveen Dissanayake and Dullas Alahapperuma all Sports Minister in the last 20 years have played ball with the cricket establishment.
Roshan Ranasinghe took them on and learned a bitter lesson. However, he should not feel disappointed. All right-minded Sri Lankans have appreciated his courage to speak against what is wrong and put cricket back on track. Sadly, we are living in times where clean men are sent home and crooks go places.
Cricket of course is not covering itself in glory. In the last three years, the national cricket team has played three Qualifying Round Tournaments. Sri Lanka finished ninth in the recent World Cup and are out of the Champions Trophy. The sport has been mismanaged and there is an urgent need for change. Sadly, the cricket bosses are friends with some powerful men in government circles and sport may well suffer more humiliations moving forward.
The government is also toying with public anger. There is disappointment in every Sri Lankan for the manner in which the national cricket team has performed in recent past and discipline among players has eroded beyond repair. Authorities seem not to care.
The Easter Sunday carnage and UNP’s inability to prevent it in 2019 brought them a humiliating defeat in the last General Elections. Such was public anger that the UNP wasn’t able to win a single seat and had to settle for one national list seat.
Messing up the cricket and playing ball with gentlemen who have brought the sport to its knees is going to bring far worse consequences to the ‘Grand Old Party’.
Lumbini encounter formidable Thurstan
Under 19 Division 1 Tier B Limited Overs Cricket Final
Thurstan had to be content with the runner up title when they appeared in the final at the last edition. They will be looking forward to make amends when they take on Lumbini in the Under 19 Division I Tier ‘B’ Limited Overs Tournament final at the Surrey Village ground Maggona today.
Thurstan captained by Vihas Thewmika took sweet revenge against defending champions St. Peter’s in the semi-final after edging out Dharmaraja in the quarter-final. After conceding defeat at the hands of Lumbini in the group stage Thurstan will be eager to defy them in the final.
On the other hand, Lumbini captained by Sahan Kaushalya are seeking their first title in two decades.
After reaching the knockout stage as the runners up to Thurstan in their group Lumbini eliminated St. Aloysius’ and Ananda to secure the final spot.
Vihas Thewmika (Captain), Shanikya Deshapriya, Navindu Fernando, Thanuga Palihawadana, Vidath Balsooriya, Thanuja Rajapakshe, Ramika Sonal, Gagana Perera, Minuga Jathunga, Thalisha Nanayakkara, Rachintha de Silva, Rison Jansen, Yovun Silpa, Adithya Isuranga, Sethru Fernando, Vishwa Dhananjaya, Lasindu Punsara, Mulitha De Costa, Pathum Dananjaya, Nethupul Lasanda, Harith Shalaka Thiwantha, Dinul Perera.
Malaka Jayasinghe (Master in Charge), Tharindu Karunarathne (Sports Coordinator), Suneth Gunathilake (Head Coach), Heshan Thilakarathne (Asst coach), Sonal Elwalage (Asst. Coach), Rusira Munasinghe (Asst. Coach)
Sahan Kaushalya (Captain), Gihan Lakshitha, Nisal Madhushan, Binuja Pramodya, Dinitha Prabhanka, Ashan Shanilka, Ushan Sathsara, Praveen Maneesha, Yuran Sandika,Yashod Kavindu, Vishwa Bandara, Subashith Dinudika, Janindu Lahiru, Nabeel Rajudeen, Dumindu Sewmina, Ishath Dilshan, Bahsika Sethmina, Dinal Sewmina, Pasindu Maneesha.
Panduka De Silva (Master in Charge), Dinesh Weerasinghe (Head Coach), Lalanga Rajapaksha (Asst. Coach)
Sports Minister claims that his life is at risk
Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe, speaking in Parliament today (27) claimed that his life was at risk and that the President and the Chief of Presidential Staff will have to be held responsible in the event anything should happen to him.
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