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Record breaking Yupun eyes Olympic qualifying standards

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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.

 



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Sri Lanka suffer heavy defeat in Galle after dramatic collapse

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Travis Head had never claimed a Test wicket in his career and yesterday in Galle in just 17 deliveries he accounted for four wickets as Sri Lanka collapsed in dramatic style to lose the first Test by ten wickets

Rex Clementine in Galle

After an impressive ODI series win, the national cricket team is back to square one as they suffered a heavy ten wicket defeat in the first Test in the most embarrassing way inside three days here in Galle. Sri Lanka were shot out for 113 runs in their second innings in 22.5 overs as it took Australia less than a session to run through the opposition with spinners sharing all ten wickets. It’s Sri Lanka’s second lowest total ever in Galle.

Trailing by 109 runs in the first innings, Sri Lanka started off well as the openers added 37 runs for the first  wicket. Mitchell Starc’s first over had gone for 17 runs including four boundaries. That was the end of seam as Pat Cummins reverted to an all spin attack and the trio of Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Swepson and Travis Head ensured that Australia were home before lunch.

The Australian batters had used the sweep shot to great effect and Sri Lankans took a leaf out of them trying to bat themselves out of trouble with the high risk stroke. But there was a significant difference. Sri Lanka’s bowling was wayward and all over the place while the Australians were on the money and it was just a matter of time before the batsman perished.

Dimuth Karunarante and Pathum Nissanka fell in successive overs and then Kusal Mendis and Oshada Fernando departed in the space of seven deliveries as Sri Lanka were reduced to 63 for four.

A 32 run stand followed between Dinesh Chandimal and Dhananjaya de Silva for the fifth wicket and Pat Cummins figured that Swepson had become predictable. Then he threw the ball to part-timer Travis Head, who had never taken a Test wicket in his career. Soon, he became lethal polishing the lower order as he picked up four wickets in 17 deliveries.

Head claimed his maiden Test wicket with his second delivery as Chandimal was bowled neck and crop. The batsman was standing in disbelief after the ball had spun sharply and went through the gate. Three deliveries later, Dhananjaya de Silva was trapped leg before wicket to leave Sri Lanka with the tail. There was not much resistance as the last six wickets fell for 13 runs as Australia wrapped the Test match inside three days. Australia needed just five runs for victory and Warner leveled the scores with a reverse sweep for four off Ramesh Mendis in the third ball of the innings. The next ball he launched for a six to win the game in style before lunch.

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Isipathana prevail over Wesley in close game

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Isipathana prevail over Wesley in close game

By a Special Sports Correspondent

Isipathana College produced magic in the dying minutes in their Division 1 Segment 1A Group B match against Wesley at the Sugathadasa Stadium to produce a 10-0 win yesterday.

Wesley had only themselves to blame for giving away four yellow cards; two of which went to Shaveen Jayawardene. The score at half time was nil all.

The winners produced a penalty and a conversion while the try came through Wewara Pandith.In the other match played yesterday Trinity beat St. Anthony’s College 25-18 and remain unbeaten after the second week of matches.

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Renuka, Deepti give India 1-0 lead

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India beat Sri Lanka in the opening ODI of the three-match series in Pallekele, but not before a scare. Sri Lanka offspinner Oshadi Ranasinghe took two early wickets, left-arm spinner Inoka Ranaweera took 4 for 39 through the middle overs, and for a brief period, it seemed that Sri Lanka would successfully defend 171.

However, their below-par total meant India’s struggling batting line-up could creep up and register a four-wicket win, bringing relief to a unit that would have wanted to chase it down with ease at the halfway mark.

But, arguably, it was Renuka Singh’s early strike that made the biggest difference in Sri Lanka’s chances of searching for the win after choosing to bat. She got the big wicket of Sri Lanka’s star batter and captain Chamari Athapaththu in the third over of the morning, and later closed her day out with two late wickets of Nilakshi de Silva and Ranasinghe with two slower balls.

Sharma and Renuka Singh picked up three-wicket hauls to bowl out Sri Lanka for 171. Deepti feasted through the middle overs of the first innings, making full use of the big turn on offer, dismissing Hansima Karunaratne for a duck and Hasini Perera for 37. Deepti took the final Sri Lankan wicket too, leaving the hosts with ten deliveries unused.

India Women

176 for 6 (Harmanpreet Kaur 44, Shafali Verma 35, Harleen Deol 34, Inoka Ranaweera 4-39) beat Sri Lanka Women 171 (Nilakshi de Silva 43, Hasini Perera 37, Deepti Sharma 3-25, Renuka Singh 3-29) by four wickets.

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