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Olympic gold in 2028, Kushil’s dream



Kushil Gunasekara in conversation with a group of Table Tennis players who excelled at the recent Nationals. All of them are being trained at the Center for Excellence that he has put up at Seenigama.

Rex Clementine
in Seenigama

You’ll be amazed at the number of international sportsmen and women the Foundation of Goodness has produced. Test cricketer Ramesh Mendis is the most high profile product to come through the institute while there are others like Kavisha Dilhari, a rising star in the Sri Lankan women’s cricket team and Amasha de Silva, the South Asian Junior Champion in 100 and 200 meters.

Seenigama, a village in Galle district, previously was only famous for the Devalaya, a must stop place for everyone travelling along the Galle Road. The Devalaya is dedicated to Devol Deviyo, who is believed to be protecting fishermen and their boats. The Devalaya was particularly popular for grinding of chilies wishing harm on those whom you don’t see eye to eye with. But Seenigama is nowadays more famous for something else other than grinding of chilies.

The state of the art sporting facility and the Center for Excellence belonging to Foundation of Goodness situated in Seenigama is now world famous and many sporting legends be it Shane Warne or Missy Franklin (US Swimmer who won four Olympic Gold medals in 2012 at the age of 17) have visited the premises.

It can be guaranteed that no sporting facility in Colombo comes anywhere closer to what’s available in Seenigama. More importantly, the skills of young sportsmen and women are nurtured meticulously here. The importance that’s given to develop women’s sports in particular is tremendous. Nation’s finest coaches are hired by the facility and the deserving athletes are given scholarships to train overseas.

The brainchild of Foundation of Goodness is former Ananda College cricketer Kushil Gunasekara, who is admired for his honesty, care for the poor and uplifting their living standards. Those who covered cricket received a firsthand account of Kushil’s organizing skills as he doubled up as Secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket and Chairman of Tour Organizing Committee. The same skills seem to have come in handy in making the charity what it is today.

The Seenigama facility caters to nine sports and has produced some national champions. In the recent Table Tennis nationals, several winners were those who were being trained at Seenigama and they were felicitated by Kushil on Saturday. While donating Table Tennis equipment for the winners, Kushil also urged them to aim high. ‘An Olympic gold in 2028 should be your aim,” he said.

The nation’s sports bodies too maybe having such ambitious ideas but you wonder whether they are prepared to burn the candle in both ends? In Seenigama though, they are giving their blood, sweat and tears. They are not only willing to go the extra mile but prepared to move mountains to achieve their dreams.

The facility has been recognized and supported by global brands such as Tesco and AVIVA and international sporting bodies like MCC, Laureus and ICC.

Kushil is among a handful of Sri Lankans to receive Honourary Life Membership from MCC, the guardians of the Laws of the game and owners of Lord’s Cricket Ground.

Foreign News

China censors ‘Tiananmen’ image of Asian Games athletes hugging




The race numbers for Lin Yuwei and Wu Yanni form '64' (pic BBC)

A photo of two Chinese female athletes that made an inadvertent reference to the Tiananmen Square massacre has been censored on Chinese social media.

The race numbers for Lin Yuwei and Wu Yanni form ’64’ – a common allusion to the incident which happened on June 4.

Discussions of the incident remain taboo in China, with authorities routinely scrubbing any mention of the topic from the internet.

In 1989, troops shot dead hundreds of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing. It remains unclear how many people actually died that day, but human rights groups’ estimates range from several hundred to several thousand killed.

The athletes had embraced each other after a 100m hurdles race at the Asian Games in which Ms Lin won gold. She was wearing her lane number 6 next to Ms Wu’s lane number 4 in the photo.

Users had posted on Weibo, one of China’s biggest social media platforms, congratulating Ms Lin. However, posts which included the photo were replaced with grey squares. However, the photo does not appear to have been completely scrubbed off the internet, with some Chinese news articles still showing a photo of the two athletes.

China has won nearly 300 medals so far in the Asian Games, which are currently taking place in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. It is due to go on until 8 October.


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All-round Afif helps Bangladesh survive Malaysia scare




Afif Hossain starred with both bat and ball

Afif Hossain put on an all-round show as Bangladesh beat Malaysia by two runs to confirm their semi-final fixture against India at the Asian Games. Malaysia needed five in the last over with Virandeep Singh batting on 52 off 35, but Afif gave away just two runs to keep the upset at bay.

Afif varied the pace in each of the first three balls of the final over to frustrate Virandeep before lobbing one up outside his hitting arc. Virandeep tried to break the shackles but holed out to long-on with Malaysia still needing five. Afif then nailed two yorkers to give away just two runs and end the contest.

Chasing 117, Malaysia were reduced to 18 for 3, with Afif striking twice in the fifth over. Virandeep then stitched two key partnerships, adding 34 for the fifth wicket with Vijay Unni and then 40 for the seventh with wicketkeeper-batter Ainool Hafizs, to take his side close. But Malaysia faltered in the last over.

Earlier in the day, Afif found himself in the middle with Bangladesh three down inside three overs. He struck a 14-ball 23 with two fours and two sixes and added 38 in just four overs with captain Saif Hassan. Hassan struck a steady half-century – 50 off 52 balls – on a surface that slowed down considerably after the earlier game, between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, in the day.

Pravandeep Singh, Virandeep’s elder brother, finished with two wickets for Malaysia but Bangladesh managed to get to 116, which eventually proved to be just enough.

Brief scores:
Bangladesh 116 for 5 in 20 overs (Saif Hassan 50*, Afif  Hossain 23, Shahadat Hossain 21;  Pavandeep Singh  2-12) beat Malaysia 114 for 8 in 20 overs (Virandeep Singh 52, Syed Aziz 20;  Afif Hossain 3-11, Ripon Mondol 3-14) by two runs


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Naib, Qais knock Sri Lanka out to take Afghanistan into semi-final




[File photo] - Gulbadin Naib dealt early blows

Afghanistan knocked an inexperienced Sri Lanka side out of the Asian Games to book a spot in the semi-final in Hangzhou. On a slow-turner, Noor Ali Zadran struck a steady fifty before three-fors from Oais Ahmad and Gulbadin Naib dealt the final blow to Sri Lanka, who had nine debutants.

After opting to field, Sri Lanka struck with the seventh ball of the match when Nuwan Thushara cleaned up Sediqullah Atal. Noor and Mohammad Shahzad then added 54 for the second wicket but both batters struggled against left-arm spinner Nimesh Vimukthi and took their time in the middle.

After Shahzad fell to seamer Lahiru Samarakoon, Shahidullah struck some lusty blows during his 14-ball 23. But then a collapse ensued that saw Afghanistan slide from 92 for 2 to be bowled out for 116. Thushara, with his slingy action and accurate yorkers, finished with 4 for 17.

In reply, Sri Lanka raced off the blocks, with Lasith Croospulle hitting Naib for a four and a six in an 11-run second over. Even though he fell in the next over, Sri Lanka reached 59 for 3 by the end of the ninth over.

That’s when Qais came into the attack and turned the game around with a two-wicket over. Ashen Bandara fell to a googly and played on while attempting a drive. Three balls later, wicketkeeper-batter Lahiru Udara was lured into playing a heave across the line to be bowled.

Captain Sahan Arachchige showed some resistance with his 22 off 29, and later, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth kept the slim hopes alive when 15 were needed from 12 ball and then nine in the final over. But Karim Janat knocked Thushara over with the first ball of the 20th over to kick-start celebrations in the Afghan camp.

Brief scores:
Afghanistan 116 in 18.3 overs (Mohammad Shahzad 20, Noor Ali Zadran 51, Shahidullah 23; Nuwan Thushara 4-17, Sahan Arachchige 2-26) beat Sri Lanka 108 in 19.1 overs (Sahan Arachchige 22, Qais Ahmad 3-16, Gulbadin Naib 3-28) by eight runs

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