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Remarkable National Athletics Championship of 1995

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12 National records were established at the annual event 25 years ago

by Reemus Fernando

Sri Lanka Athletics will conduct the 98th National Athletics Championships at the Sugathadasa Stadium from today. Looking back at a remarkable National Championship conducted by the athletics governing body 25 years ago. “Performance wise there has been no other National Championship at which so many national records were created” says Sri Lanka Athletics statistician Saman Kumara Gunawardena referring to the 73rd National Athletics Championship which was held from October 24 to 26, 1995 at the Sugathadasa Stadium.

The championship was held in an era which is popularly known as the golden era of track and field sports in the country. Prominent athletes including Sugath Thilakaratne, Chinthaka de Soysa, Sriyani Kulawansa, Damayanthi Dharsha and Olympic medallist Susanthika Jayasinghe, who were well known even in the Asian circuit were at their peak during this time. But neither Susanthika nor Dharsha took part in this championship which witnessed 12 national records being established.

As per the veteran athletics statistician Gunawardena, the 12 national records established at that meet is the highest number of national records established at a single national championship to date. Incidentally two athletes who created records later improved on them to have them against their names even today.

Hurdler Mahesh Perera and distance runner Keshani Samarakoon created two records each. Perera clocked 14.07 seconds to win the 110 metres hurdles in a new national record time and also had an equally remarkable 51.93 seconds performance to win the 400 metres hurdles, again in a new national record time. Perera was the runner up in the 100 metres dash won by Chinthaka de Soysa.

Keshani Samarakoon created new records in the women’s 1500 metres (4:32.19 secs) and the 3000 metres (9:41.44 secs). In both events her runner up was Sujeewa Nilmini Jayasena who would later become one of Sri Lanka’s best long distance runners of her era.

The men’s 200 metres produced a notable tape finish with Chinthaka de Soysa and Sugath Thilakaratne both breasting in a time of 21.19 seconds, a new national record. Soysa was adjudged the winner. Thilakaratne yet to win Asian Games and Asian Championship golds clocked 46.63 seconds to win his pet event the 400 metres. Two years later he would accomplish those Asian achievements and more than a decade later he would become the president of Sri Lanka Athletics.

Long distance events returned notable performances with Saman Weerawardana ( 14:21.79 secs), JMS Jayaweera (14:30.20 secs) and RMR Ramanayake (14:39.45 secs) winning first, second and third places respectively producing sub15 minute timings.

The men’s 10,000 metres witnessed JMS Jayaweera returning a time of 30:10.23 seconds to create a new national record.

Legendary marathoner SLB Rosa had clocked 29 minutes and 18 seconds in a 10,000 metres in 1975 in Arkansas City, USA but the performances achieved overseas had not been recognized even by 1995. But now Sri Lanka Athletics lists Rosa’s 1995 record as the National record.

In the men’s long jump Benildus Fernando created a new national record clearing 7.74 metres. The first and second runners up were Sujith Rohitha (7.42m) and Indika Chaminda Vithanage (7.27m). Incidentally all three athletes have held the national record during their careers.

Ruwan Pradeep Perera who towered above the rest of the field for a long period dominating pole vault established one of the national records at this meet clearing 4.41 metres.

A giant in the throwing arena, Talavou Alailima won both the shot put (16.21m) and the discus throw. The feat of 50.24 metres to win the discus throw was recorded as a new national mark. A new javelin national record was created by Pradeep Nishantha, who years later, become the coach of Sumeda Ranasinghe, the first Sri Lankan javelin thrower at the Olympics,. Incidentally, like Nishantha Jayasinghe, many athletes who won places at this 1995 National Championships went on to become coaches.

Steeplechase winner Priyantha Thantirige, pole vaulter Ruwan Pradeep Perera, triple jump winner Chandimal Niroshan, hurdlers Sriyani Kulawansa and Nayanthi Kumari Chandrasena, sprinters Dhammika Nandakumara and Tamara Saman Deepika, high jumper Imalka Ranaweera, many time shot put and discus throw national champion Padma Nandani Wijesundara and fellow throwers M.A.S.N. Manchanayake and Saluja Karawita and distance runners, R.M. Tissa Rathnayake and R.M.L.B. Rathnayake went on to become coaches.

In the women’s category Sriyani Kulawansa stood out winning both the 100 metres and the 100 metres hurdles. Her hurdles performance was a new national record. While Yamuna Jayalath Yapa took the 400 metres hurdles record under her name, Jayamini Illeperuma won the 400 and 800 metres. In a rare achievement D.A. Inoka from Walala, won the 10,000 metres.

Of the winners of this meet Chinthaka de Soysa, Benildus Fernando, Mahesh Perera, Sugath Thilakaratne and Sriyani Kulawansa made it to 1996 Olympics and many others who won also went on to clinch golds and silvers at the South Asian Games. (Statistics for this story were provided by Sri Lanka Athletics statistician Saman Kumara Gunawardena)

 

MEN

100 M:

1. Chinthaka De Soysa (SL Army) 10.52 secs., 2. Mahesh Perera (Track Master SC) 10.65 secs, 3. PK Sujith Rohitha (Sri Lak AC) 10.85 secs.

200 M:

1. Chinthaka de Soysa (SL Army) 21.19 secs. (NSLR), 2. Sugath Thilakaratne (Track Master SC) 21.19 secs, 3. Dhammika Nandakumara (SL Army) 21.79 secs.

400 M:

1. Sugath Thilakaratne (Track Master SC) 46.63 secs, 2. SR Rathnadeepa (Sri Lak AC) 48.06 secs, 3. Suresh Dematapitiya (CT & FC) 48.25 secs.

800 M:

1. RM Tissa Rathnayake (SL Army) 1:49.85 secs, 2. RMLB Rathnayake (SL Army) 1:50.49 secs, 3. PMGA Dharmasena (SL Navy) 1:50.74 secs.

1500 M:

1. Lalith Galappaththi (Unattached) 3:56.43 secs, 2. RM Tissa Rathnayake (SL Army) 3:56.96 secs, 3. RMLB Rathnayake (SL Army) 3:58.16 secs.

5000 M:

1. Saman Weerawardana (SL Army) 14:21.79 secs, 2. JMS Jayaweera (SL Army) 14:30.20 secs, 3. RMR Ramanayake (SL Army) 14:39.45 secs.

10000 M:

1. JMS Jayaweera (SL Army) 30:10.23 secs (NSLR), 2. RMR Ramanayake (SL Army) 31:10.76 secs, 3. W Sanjeewa (SL Army) 31:19.50 secs.

110 M. Hurdles:

1. Mahesh Perera (Track Master SC) 14.07 secs (NSLR), 2. Tarique Gunasekara (Track Master SC) 14.74 secs, 3. Kenneth Perera (Sri Lak AC) 15.11 secs.

400 M. Hurdles:

1. Mahesh Perera (Track Master SC) 51.93 secs. (NSLR), 2. RC Pushpakumara (SL Army) 52.78 secs, 3. Sunimal Manamperi (SL Army) 53.96 secs.

3000 M. Steeplechase:

1. PP Thantirige (SL Army) 9:06.52 secs, 2. Ajith Ebert Silva (SL Army) 9:17.25 secs, 3. DW Prasantha (SL Army) 9:29.56 secs.

High Jump:

1. Patrick Saparamadu (CT & FC) 1.95m, 2. S Maximus Fernando (Ace AC) 1.90m, 3. Glen Wilson (CT & FC) 1.90m.

Pole Vault:

1. Ruwan Pradeep Perera (SL Army) 4.41 m (NSLR), 2. DMG Dissanayake (SL Army) 4.20m, 3. W Somarathne (SL Army) 4.15m.

Long Jump:

1. T Benildus Fernando (Sri Lak AC) 7.74 m (NSLR), 2. PK Sujith Rohitha (Sri Lak AC) 7.42m, 3. Indika Chaminda Vithanage (Track Master SC) 7.27m.

Triple Jump:

1. Chandimal Niroshan (Ace AC) 15.42m, 2. PS Senathilake (SL Army) 15.05m, 3. PA Manawadu (CT & FC) 14.96m.

Shot Put:

1. Talavou F Alailima (Track Master SC) 16.21m, 2. W. Fonseka (SL Army) 12.18m, 3. Suranga Weerasinghe (SL Schools) 12.03m.

Discus Throw:

1. Talavou F Alailima (Track Master SC) 50.24m (NSLR), 2. Ajith Jayakody (SL Army) 46.06m, 3. Alexi Gunasekara (Ace AC) 39.04m.

Javelin Throw:

1. AB Pradeep Nishantha (SL Army) 64.62 m (NSLR), 2. PK Aluvihare (Track Master SC) 62.82m, 3. APS Jayajeewa (Sri Lak AC) 60.16m.

 

WOMEN

100 M:

1. MA Sriyani Kulawansa (Ace AC) 11.92 secs, 2. Tamara Saman Deepika (SL Army) 11.92 secs, 3. Dilhani Rupasinghe (SL Army) 12.04 secs.

200 M:

1. Tamara Samandeepika (SL Army) 24.27 secs, 2. Dilhani Rupasinghe (SL Army) 25.90 secs, 3. PC Hemathilake (SL Schools) 26.68 secs.

400 M:

1. Jayamini Illeperuma (Ace AC) 55.59 secs, 2. BG Chandralatha (SL Army) 56.80 secs, 3. HH Thambaralatha (Matara DAA) 57.97 secs.

800 M:

1. Jayamini Illeperuma (Ace AC) 2:13.36 secs, 2. AG Dhammika Kumari (Kegalle DAA) 2:14.47 secs, 3. AMN Edirisinghe (SL Schools) 2:20.93 secs.

1500 M:

1. Keshani Samarakoon (SL Air Force) 4:32.19 secs (NSLR), 2. Sujeewa Nilmini Jayasena (Unattached) 4:40.38 secs, 3. Udeni Kanchanamala (Track Master SC) 4:40.84 secx.

3000 M:

1. Keshani Samarakoon (SL Air Force) 9:41.44secs (NSLR), 2. Sujeewa Nilmini Jayasena (Unattached) 9:44.36 secs, 3. Udeni Kanchanamala (Track Master SC) 10:12.26 secs.

10000 M:

1. D.A. Inoka (SL Schools) 39:15.88 secs, 2. Deepa Priyangani (Matara DAA) 40:45.02 secs, 3. WM Irin (Kegalle DAA) 41:23.76 secs.

100 M. Hurdles:

1. MA Sriyani Kulawansa (Ace AC) 13.53 secs (NSLR), 2. Inoka Umayani (SL Army) 15.63 secs, 3. Nayanthi Kumari Chandrasena (Track Master SC) 16.18 secs.

400 M. Hurdles:

1. Yamuna Jayalath Yapa (Sri Lak AC) 62.79 secs (NSLR), 2. Anusha Jayweera (SL Schools) 63.25 secs, 3. Viyanka Welpahla (SL Navy) 63.89 secs.

High Jump:

1. Muditha Hiripitya (Sri Lak AC) 1.64m, 2. DG Rajapaksha (SL Navy) 1.61m, 3. Imalka Ranaweera (Sri Lak AC) 1.58m.

Long Jump:

1. Anusha Kariyawasam (Sri Lak AC) 5.87m, 2. KM Indrani (Matale DAA) 5.62m, 3. PES Fernando (Sri Lak AC) 5.58m.

Triple Jump:

1. R. Thushari Ariyaratne (SL Army) 12.00m, 2. Padma Nandani Wijesundara (Track Master SC) 11.90m, 3. PES Fernando (Sri Lak AC) 11.45m.

Shot Put:

1. Padma Nandani Wijesundara (Track Master SC) 11.31m, 2. LR Siribaddana (Track Master SC) 11.02m, 3. M.A.S.N. Manchanayake (Track Master SC) 10.36m.

Discus Throw:

1. Padma Nandani Wijesundara (Track Master SC) 41.60m, 2. L Saluja Karawita (SL Schools) 38.30m, 3. Suneetha Iranganie (Puttalam DAA) 34.86m.

Javelin Throw:

1. MA Priyanka Nishani (Sri Lak AC) 43.74m, 2. Rosemary Fernando (Sri Lak AC) 40.76m, 3. Chamani Ridma Fernando (SL Schools) 38.60m.

4X100 M. Inter Club Relay:

1. SL Army 49.31secs, 2. Ace AC 50.13 secs, 3. Track Master SC 51.15 secs

Keys:

New Sri Lanka Record -NSLR

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Eight Sri Lanka cricketers fail fitness tests

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Avishka Fernando has failed a second fitness test inside ten days.

By Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka Cricket has issued an ultimatum to its contracted players after eight of them failed a fitness test in Colombo. A pool of 20 shortlisted players for the upcoming tour of West Indies underwent fitness tests in Colombo and eight of them did poorly failing the tests. The list includes several permanent members in the side and some senior players.

The players have now been given an ultimatum to get their act together before another fitness test on February 3rd. If they failed the second fitness test, they will be ineligible for selection for the tour of West Indies. Sri Lanka will play two Tests, three ODIs and three T-20s in the Caribbean.  

Fitness has been a growing concern within the team and Head Coach Mickey Arthur has demanded excellence in this aspect. Opening batsman Avishka Fernando was sent home from Galle lead up to the Test series against England after he failed the fitness test. It is believed that Fernando had failed a second fitness test as well conducted yesterday.

It has been argued that players remaining at home during COVID times had resulted in poor fitness levels. But question marks about fitness standards had been there for a while now.

Meanwhile the bio-bubble in Galle has been pruned to 17 players after Sri Lanka Cricket informed team management to send home five players. The bubble will be reduced by a further two on the day of the match making the squad to 15 players, like during pre-Covid days.

The reserves engaging in card games when the batting was collapsing on day one of the Test match had angered fans and former players. It is believed that the drastic measure to send players home was taken as a reaction to it. The players were not in the dressing room when cameras caught them playing cards but in a floor above the dressing room.

Accordingly, Dimuth Karunarante, Kusal Mendis, Nuwana Pradeep, Minod Bhanuka and Lahiru Kumara have been sent home. Karunaratne and Mendis were not involved in card games. The former has been released as he is injured while the latter has been sent to the High Performance Center at RPS to work on technical aspects of the game. Mendis picked up four ducks in a row.

Suranga Lakmal and Oshada Fernando, two players who engaged in card games, have recovered from their injuries and are expected to feature in the second Test match. While Lakmal is expected to share the new ball with Asitha Fernando, Oshada is expected to fill the vacant number three slot.

Niroshan Dickwella will continue to bat at number six but has been asked to provide more consistency.

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Yasitha, Anika looking to add doubles titles

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Tennis Nationals 2020

Men’s and women’s singles champions Yasitha de Silva and Anika Seneviratne will look to secure the doubles titles as well as they booked final spots in the respective doubles tournaments of the Tennis Nationals 2020 at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Monday.

Just a day after winning his first men’s singles national title de Silva paired Sankha Atukorale to beat Nishendiran Sivendran and Michael Siyaguna 9-1, 6-3 in the men’s doubles semi-final. Now they will meet giant killers 16-year old Chathurya Nilaweera and 17-year-old Thehan Wijemanne in today’s final.

Nilaweera and Wijemanne ousted defending champions Sharmal Dissanayake and Rukmal Cooray in the quarter-finals before edging out Dhilvan Herath and Archana Lokuge in a closely contested semi-final. They bounced back from a 5-7 defeat in the first set to secure their final place they scored 6-2, 11-9.

Meanwhile Anika Seneviratne, who won her second women’s singles national title on Sunday, advanced to the women’s doubles final with her sister Alalna as they secured a 6-1, 6-3 win over Oneli Perera and Sethmi Sumanaweera. Seneviratne sisters are the defending champions.

They will meet Janali Manamperi and Savini Jayasuriya in the final. Manamperi and Jayasuriya beat Neyara Weerawansa and Tuvini de Alwis 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 in the semis. (RF)

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Dimuth ruled out of second Test  

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Dimuth Karunaratne (R) has been ruled out of second Test against England.

Rex Clementine in Galle Fort

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne has been ruled out of second Test against England that will get underway later this week. The opening batsman missed the first Test as well.

Karunaratne was hit on the hand by Wiaan Mulder during the second Test match at Wanderers leaving him with a fractured left thumb. That didn’t deter him from going onto post a hundred.

However, the  recovery has been slow and Karunaratne who missed the opening Test match has been ruled out of the series as well. He’s expected to return to lead the side for the series against West Indies. Another player who was injured South Africa – Dhananjaya de Silva has  started  rehabilitation. De Silva who tore a thigh muscle is expected to return for West Indies series.

Meanwhile,  Sri Lanka Cricket has expressed dissatisfaction towards team management after several players were seen engaging in card games while wickets were falling in a hurry on the opening day of the Test match. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 135 after winning the toss. Although they bounced back and fought hard over the next three days, they were always catching up having conceded too much advantage to the opposition.

The four players involved in card games are Suranga Lakmal, fellow fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep, top order batsman Oshada Fernando and left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan.

The extended Sri Lanka squad during COVID times contains 22 players and these four players were not in the dressing room when cameras captured them but on a floor above the dressing room.

Five players who are not going to be part of the second Test match will return home today.

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