by Reemus Fernando
Italy based sprinter Yupun Abeykoon shattered the Sri Lanka National record and the South Asian men’s 100 metres record, offering glimpse of hope to end more than two decades of wait for a Sri Lankan champion to feature in an Olympics in the glamorous sprint event.
Former Pannala National School and St. Joseph Vaz College athlete clocked 10.16 seconds to break Himasha Eshan’s national record at a championship in Germany where he beat a host of German sprinters to win the 100 metres dash on Tuesday.
Congratulatory massages were a galore in the social media from midnight Tuesday as the track and field fraternity took stock on the capabilities of a 4×100 metres relay team at regional international level and Abeykoon’s own chances of qualifying for the quadrennial event.
In an interview with The Island Abeykoon thanked every one who had helped him reach where he is today and stressed that earning Olympic qualifying standards was his goal.
He said that he missed two months of training due to Covid-19 pandemic and commenced training in July. His two coaches Maurizio Raparelli and Claudio Licciardello had prepared plans to asses his strengths this season and he was reaching the peak.
He had been in Italy for five years now and had dedicated his time fully for training while his expenses had been bone by his parents.
“I would like to thank those who helped me on my way to achieving the national record. My coaches, my parents, Gen. Palitha Fernando, the president of Sri Lanka Athletics who had been in constant contact,” said Abeykoon.
“I was congratulated by the new Sports Minister in the morning. It is the first time that I received any communication from the Ministry. I hope country’s athletes will get the necessary support.”
“From now on I will target achieving Olympic qualifying standards,” said Abeykoon.
The 25-year-old had produced a notable feat days ago before smashing the national record established by Eshan last year.
With Abeykoon now inching closer to the tough Olympic qualifying mark, pressure will be on home based athletes like Eshan, Suranjaya and Yodasinghe to earn the rare berth.
“This pressure will help Sri Lanka improve standards in the 100 metres and we will be able to field formidable relay teams for international events,” Sri Lanka Athletics statistician Saman Kumara told The Island.
Incidentally, Abeykoon who was placed third behind Himasha Eshan and Vinoj Suranjaya at the National Championships in 2019 produced impressive performances ahead of the last South Asian Games. Sri Lanka Athletics had taken a policy decision to feature only the winners of the National Championships for individual events of the regional Games thus he could not featuring in the 100 metres. He was selected only as a member of the relay team for the South Asian Games where he anchored the team to gold.
A Sri Lankan 100 metres sprinter has not competed at an Olympics since the former champions, Asian Games medallist Sriyantha Dissanayake in Barcelona 1992 and Chinthaka de Zoysa in 1996 Atlanta Olympics represented the country. There had been a few national sprinters, who had given much hope early in their careers but the ever improving standards during the Bolt-dominated era made the country wait for more than quarter of a century. With the World Athletics raising the qualifying standards for the 100 metres dash to tough 10.05 seconds for the postponed Tokyo event, not many analysts could bet on a Sri Lankan sprinter for the coveted berth. But now with Abeykoon showing signs of vast improvement under a foreign coach, local authorities are left to keep their fingers crossed at the prospect of winning a 100 metres spot for Olympics.
Abeykoon who left for Italy after his schooling was coached by Chaminda Sampath Weerasinghe when he was at Pannala National School and St. Joseph Vaz College.
Murali hospitalised for cardiac treatment
Muralitharan was at the Chepauk when Sunrisers played Mumbai Indians on Saturday, incidentally his 49 birthday. © BCCI/IPL
Sri Lankan cricket legend Muttiah Muralitharan, who is part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad support staff in the ongoing IPL, has undergone an angioplasty in Madras.
It was reported that the champion off-spinner “had a stent fitted to unblock an artery, and will rejoin Sunrisers Hyderabad when discharged.
He has been the bowling coach and mentor of Sunrisers Hyderabad since 2015. His team has suffered three losses in a row this season.
Dilhara Lokuhettige gets eight-year ban for corruption
Dilhara Lokuhettige had been slapped with corruption charges in April 2019
“The severity of the sanction reflects the seriousness of his offences and his continued refusal to cooperate”
Dilhara Lokuhettige, the former Sri Lanka allrounder, has been banned from all cricket for eight years by the ICC anti-corruption tribunal after being found guilty of breaching the ICC’s anti-corruption code on three counts.
Lokuhettige had been slapped with corruption charges in April 2019, five months after the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) had also charged him. The charges relate to the 2017 T10 tournament played in the UAE, which is why the ECB had been first to lay charges.
In January this year, the tribunal found Lokuhettige guilty of:
Article 2.1.1 – for being party to an agreement or effort to fix or contrive or otherwise influence improperly the result, progress, conduct or other aspect(s) of a match.
Article 2.1.4 – directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging or intentionally facilitating any participant to breach code article 2.1.
Article 2.4.4 – failing to disclose to the ACU full details of any approaches or invitations received to engage in corrupt conduct under the code.
“Having represented Sri Lanka in international cricket, Dilhara had attended a number of anti-corruption education sessions and would have known his actions were a breach of the Code,” Alex Marshall, the ICC general manager – anti corruption, said. “The severity of the sanction reflects the seriousness of his offences and his continued refusal to cooperate and should serve as a deterrent for anyone considering getting involved in corruption of any kind.”
An Al Jazeera documentary on cricket corruption in Sri Lanka had initially raised concerns about Lokuhettige. In that, Lokuhettige was seen to be in the room when another former Sri Lanka cricketer was talking to an alleged corruptor, as well as an Al Jazeera journalist posing as a prospective bettor.
Former Sri Lanka seamer Nuwan Zoysa was also found guilty of three corruption-related offences to do with that T10 tournament in November last year. Zoysa has since denied any wrongdoing.
Zoysa and Lokuhettige are the third and fourth former Sri Lanka players to be charged with corruption. Sanath Jayasuriya was the most high-profile cricketer to cop charges, and has served out a two-year suspension from the game, while former offspinner and sometime Galle curator Jayananda Warnaweera was the first to be charged with corruption by the ICC.
As Lokuhettige has been living in Australia and held no positions with Sri Lankan cricket, he has not faced a sanctions from the SLC so far.
He played 11 white-ball internationals for Sri Lanka, picking up eight wickets to go with 101 runs with the bat. His last competitive game was a first-class fixture for Moors Sports Club in February 2016.
Royal, Trinity march into semis as Ahan continues top form
Royal College marched into the semi-finals of the Under-19 Division I Tier ‘A’ tournament with a convincing six wickets victory over Nalanda as they stopped the team inclusive of at least two leading players of the tournament at the quarter-final hurdle on Monday.
Chasing 190 runs to win, the tournament’s leading batsman Ahan Wickramasinghe scored an unbeaten 71 runs for Royal to seal the semi-final place with 11 overs to spare. Dasis Manchanayake who took three Nalanda wickets also chipped in with 22 runs.
Wickramasinghe has scored over 400 runs now in six matches. Raveen de Silva who scored an unbeaten half century and Vinuja Ranpul who chipped in with 22 runs for Nalanda are the tournament’s second and third highest run scorers. .
In the other Tier ‘A’ quarter-final played on Monday, Trinity beat St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa by seven wickets to book their semi-final place.
While Royal meet the winners of the match between St. Anthony’s, Katugastota and Mahanama, Colombo in the semi-final, Trinity will encounter the winners of the quarter-final between Richmond and St. Joseph’s.
In the Division II Tier ‘A’ tournament, Lyceum International School, Wattala continued their impressive run as they edged out Rahula College, Matara in the quarter-final.
Division I Tier A
Royal beat Nalanda at Mount Lavinia
189 for 7 in 50 overs (Rashan Dissanayake 30, Nadil Jayakody 32, Vinuja Ranpul 22, Raveen de Silva 59n.o.; Dasis Manchanayake 3/17)
191 for 4 in 39 overs (Sineh Jayawardena 60, Isiwara Dissanayake 21, Ahan Wickramasinghe 71n.o., Dasis Manchanayake 22; Dineth Samaraweera 2/32)
Trinity beat St. Sebastian’s at Reid Avenue
131 all out in 43.2 overs (Yashan Avishka 51, Savindu Rodrigo 30; Dinuka Thennakoon 4/23, Abishek Anandakumar 3/37)
133 for 3 in 30.1 overs (Thevin Amarasinghe 39, Umair Raizan 60, Pawan Pathiraja 21n.o.; Sadeesh Fernando 3/39)
Division II Tier ‘A’
Lyceum beat Rahula at Darley Road
148 all out in 42.1 overs (Gamitha Pawan 61, Jaron Fernando 20, Theekshana Shehan 26; Binura Sanketh 2/17, Sandew Rithmaka 3/27)
117 all out in 42.2 overs (Tharindu Rajapaksha 52, Binura Sanketh 24; Mohammed Rifnaz 2/23, Mithush Lakshman 3/14)
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