Connect with us


Pushpakumara: an unsung hero



A decade of steeplechase dominance 

by Reemus Fernando   

Dominating any sport for a long time is not an easy task. It takes commitment and a deep devotion to the sport to perform continuously at the top level specially when rewards for achievements are hard to come by. Rajapaksha Mudiyanselage Samantha Pushpakumara, lovingly called ‘Blackiya’ by fellow athletes, is one of the rare performers who demonstrated such commitment and determination to dominate one of track and field’s more demanding disciplines, the 3,000 metres steeplechase for almost ten years.  

From 2011 he was the undisputed champion in his pet event, the 3000 metres steeplechase, which is still to attract the recognition it richly deserves in Sri Lanka and the South Asian region. Pushpakumara clocked 9:05.45 seconds to win his maiden national title in 2011 reached his peak six years later when he clocked a notable 8:52.19 seconds at the National Championship in 2017. That personal best performance powered him to the 30th position in Asian rankings behind a host of Japanese and African born athletes. That was the third fastest performance in the South Asian region that year.  

The absence of this endurance discipline at the South Asian Games has prevented the likes of Pushpakumara from hogging limelight at the regional event and testing their true potentials by competing against tough opposition. However, despite such drawbacks and even the absence of the event at the National Sports Festival, Pushpakumara has persevered in this discipline for more than a decade now.  

Though, Sri Lanka started this discipline only after a synthetic track was first laid at the Sugathadasa Stadium in 1989, it has a long history in Asia with both the Asian Games (1951) and the Asian Athletics Championships (1973) featuring the event from the very inception.   

Of the steeplechase races conducted at the National Championships since 1989, Pushpakumara has accounted for nearly one third of the titles, an achievement that needs to be applauded. Apart from the National titles, Pushpakumara has accounted for many Sri Lanka Army Athletics titles, Defence Services Championship titles and bagged numerous trial meet victories.   

For an athlete who has dominated the discipline for so many years, the national record was probably the only achievement that he could not accomplish. According to Sri Lanka Athletics Recorder Saman Kumara, Pushpakumara is ranked third in the country’s all-time best performers’ list in the steeplechase.  

 Only the national record holder Shantha Mendis and former national champion Upendra Indika Bandara have run faster than Pushpakumara in the history of this discipline.   

Apart from steeplechase, Pushpakumara also found success in the 5,000 metres and the Cross Country winning titles including the National Sports Festival title on more than one occasion.   

Pushpakumara’s commitment for steeplechase and long-distance events was rewarded by Sri Lanka Athletics when he was selected for a few international events including the Asian Cross Country Championships and the Vietnam Open Athletics Championships. In 2017 he was the winner of both the steeplechase and the 1500 metres at the Vietnam Open Athletics Championships. 

He was picked for the South Asian Games teams solely on merit of his 5000 metres performances as his pet event was yet to debut at the regional event.  

  With no big achievements to his credit at school level, Pushpakumara honed his ability to run distance events after joining the Army. But it took several years after joining the Artillery Regiment, for him to carve a niche for himself as a formidable steeplechaser at national level. 

The only child in the family, Pushpakumara had “won village Avurudu races” but “had no big victories at school level” as a student of Mellawagedara MV, Divulapitiya. His first notable achievement whilst in the Army came in 2008 when he was placed third in the 5,000 metres at the Army Athletics Championship. That was after he came under the supervision of Brigadier Parry Liyanage who was a mentor to many leading distance runners including Chaminda Wijekoon and Anurada Indrajith Cooray who later went on to establish Sri Lanka records in the men’s 1500 metres and the marathon respectively.  

After dominating the steeplechase for nearly a decade, Pushpakumara has decided to shift his focus to distance road events. He won the 5000 metres at the last National Athletics Championship hheld in December but had to be content with the runner up title in the 3,000 metres steeplechase. It was the first time in ten years that the title eluded him.  

He will probably make one last attempt to regain the title at the next National Championships under the guidance of Upali Wickramasinghe, who has been training him for a long time now. The result of the men’s steeplechase at the next nationals will be of little interest to Pushpakumara’s fans as he has already left a lasting impression in their hearts.    



Name: Rajapaksha Mudiyanselage
Samantha Pushpakumara   

Date of birth:

16th March 1983  


Sri Lanka Army 

Personal Bests: 


3:53.59 secs 

3,000m Steeplechase:



14:26.68 secs 


Parry Liyanage,

Upali Wickramasinghe  



IPL 2023 rule change: teams will name their playing XI after the toss



IPL captains this year will walk out to the toss with two XIs handy

Captains in IPL 2023 will walk in with two different team sheets before handing in their final XI after the toss. That is one of the significant tweaks from the last season in the IPL’s playing conditions, which will soon be shared with the teams. The change, the IPL said in an internal note listing the various changes to playing conditions, would allow franchises to pick their best XIs based on whether they end up batting or bowling, the appropriate impact player included.

“Currently the captains have to exchange the teams before the toss,” the note, seen by ESPNcricinfo, said. “This has been changed to exchange of teams immediately post the toss, to enable teams to choose the best XI depending on whether they are batting or bowling first. It will also assist the teams to plan for the impact player.”

The IPL thus becomes the second T20 franchise tournament after the SA20 to allow teams to announce their XI post the toss. In the SA20, which recently staged its inaugural season, teams put 13 names on the team sheet initially before announcing their final XI after the toss. Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith, the SA20’s tournament director, had also said then that the move was designed to “lessen the impact of the toss” and allow a level-playing playing field based on the conditions.

The IPL has adopted a similar thought process now, with another key factor being neutralising the effect of dew, which has traditionally had a big impact at some venues in India, with teams bowling second adversely impacted.

While the toss will still matter, it should not be a case of “win toss, win match” in certain conditions with the new rule. For example, if a team that wanted to bat and then defend a total on a slow track in turning conditions is forced to bowl first, it can play an extra spinner in the starting XI, and then replace a specialist bowler with a batter in the second innings to help with the run-chase.

Other IPL playing conditions tweaks

Over rate penalty of only four fielders outside the 30-yard circle for every over not completed in the allocated time. Unfair movement of the wicketkeeper will result in a dead ball and 5 penalty runs. Unfair movement by a fielder will result in a dead ball and 5 penalty runs.


Continue Reading


Litton, Tamim make light work of small chase after Mahmud’s maiden five-for



Tamim Iqbal and Litton Das never gave Ireland a chance

Openers Litton Das and Tamim Iqbal made light work of a 102-run target as Bangladesh beat Ireland by ten wickets in the third ODI in Sylhet and completed a 2-0 series win. The visitors were bowled out for 101 in 28.1 overs after the Bangladesh fast bowlers took all ten wickets in an innings for the first time in the format.

The short chase was enlivened by Tamim and Litton, who put on an exhibition of strokeplay, finishing the game in just 13.1 overs, Bangladesh’s second-shortest chase in ODIs. After Bangladesh beat Ireland by a record margin of runs in the first ODI, this was also their first ten-wicket win in ODIs.

A small crowd turned up at the picturesque Sylhet venue on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan starting, and went home shortly after sunset. Ireland’s 101 broke a sequence of five successive 300-plus totals by the side batting first on this ground.

Hasan Mahmud’s maiden five-wicket haul, Taskin Ahmed’s three-wicket burst and Ebadot Hossain’s two-for summed up the absolute dominance by the Bangladesh fast bowlers. The spinners were needed for only four overs in all with Shakib Al Hasan not getting a chance to bowl for only the third time in his ODI career. It was a day out for the quicks on the hard and bouncy Sylhet surface, a rarity among grounds in Bangladesh. The conditions prompted the team management to pick six bowlers including the three seamers.

Mahmud removed openers Stephen Doheny and Paul Stirling in a disciplined opening burst. Doheny was caught behind for 8 after scratching around for 20 balls before Stirling, dropped on 5, got to 7 before Mahmud trapped him lbw in the ninth over. The skiddy fast bowler soon picked up his third when he trapped Harry Tector lbw later in the same over. Taskin got captain Andy Balbirnie caught at first slip for just 6 as Ireland collapsed to 26 for 4 before the first powerplay was up.

Then came their only partnership of note. Lorcan Tucker and Curtis Campher added 42 runs for the fifth wicket, which effectively helped Ireland reach the three-figure mark. Campher top-scored with 36, while Tucker made 28, the only two double-figure scores in the innings.

But it was soon over. Ebadot’s in-dipper had Tucker lbw. Next ball, Ebadot clean-bowled George Dockrell for a golden duck as Ireland slipped to 68 for 6.Taskin then took a brace in his seventh over, first getting Andy McBrine to top-edge a quick bouncer before Adair inside-edged his second ball onto the stumps.

Campher was the ninth wicket that fell, top-edging Mahmud towards fine leg. Taskin took a comfortable catch, celebrating the younger team-mate’s first four-wicket haul. It soon became five when Mahmud trapped Graham Hume lbw for 3.

Tamim started the chase with a slashed four over point, before pasting the Ireland fast bowlers for boundaries through cover and square-leg. Most of Litton’s boundaries came through the covers, including a back-foot punch that looked scrumptious from every angle. Left-arm spinner Matthew Humphreys then went for two expensive overs, before the Bangladesh opening pair calmed down briefly.

Tamim lofted Humphreys for a straight six in his third over, before Litton drove Campher through the covers. Then he struck two fours off Humphreys to reach his ninth ODI fifty, before Tamim hit the winning runs.

Brief scores:

Bangladesh 102 for 0 (Litton Das 50*, Tamim Iqbal 41*) beat Ireland 101 (Curtis Campher 36, Lorcan Tucker 28, Hasan Mahmud 5-32, Taskin Ahmed 3-26, Ebadot Hossain 2-29) by ten wickets


Continue Reading


AA Sponsors 68th National Billiard Championship



President AAC Dhammika Attygalle hands over the sponsorship to the Secretary of the B & SASL Kumar Lanerolle in the presence of P.H. Liyanage – Billiard Chairman AAC, Lasitha Gunaratne – Exco Member - AAC and Member of the National Sports Council, Devapriya Hettiarachchi – Secretary AAC and Anton Kandiah – Treasurer of the B & SASL and Billiard Secretary of the AAC.

The Automobile Association of Ceylon (AAC) will sponsor the 68th National Billiard Championship, conducted by the Billiards and Snooker Association of Sri Lanka (B & SASL) this year.

The Automobile Association of Ceylon established in 1904 is the oldest Motoring Organization in Sri Lanka,and is afiliated to the Federation Internationale De L’ Automobile, world largest Mobility Organization in Geneva, which has 150 countries under its umbrella. AAC’s prime object is to make all Road users safe.

AAC conducts annual Billiard and Snooker Tournaments for its members and also takes part in the inter-club tournaments in order to promote the cue sports. In the past, AAC members have excelled in several National Billiard and Snooker Tournaments and brought glory to the association.

Continue Reading