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Revisiting National Athletics Championships of 1945



by Reemus Fernando

Sri Lanka Athletics is set to conduct its 98th National Athletics Championships at the Sugathadasa Stadium from Saturday, as it looks forward to provide the competition-starved national athletes an opportunity to weigh in their strengths after being in the sideline for more than a year due to Covid 19 pandemic. In two years Sri Lanka Athletics will celebrate the centenary year. Today we review a National Championship which was held 75 years ago.

Sri Lanka Athletics which was then called the Amateur Athletics Association conducted the National Championships of 1945 over two days on October 14 and 15 at the Police Ground, Bambalapitiya.

According to Sri Lanka Athletics records, men competed in 15 events while the women’s competition had only four disciplines. Apart from the senior events there had been an invitational school boy event of 440 yards won by G.A. Van Twest of St. Sylvester’s College (56.3secs.)

At a time when distances of track events were measured in yards and miles and performances of field events in feet and inches, a feat of 10.1 seconds in the 100 yards had been adjudged the Best Performance of the meet. Sri Lanka Athletics statistics record 2/Lt. B.C. Henricus of Navy as the winner of the 100 yards.

The event witnessed G.D. Peiris, who would later become a member of the country’s first ever team to an Olympics in 1948, winning both the long jump and the triple jump. The athlete represented Y.M.C.A. and cleared 22 feet for his long jump victory. His performance for the triple jump title is registered as 45 feet and 9 ¾ inches. Peiris who competed unsuccessfully at the 1948 London Olympics long jump improved the National triple jump record thrice (1940, 1942, 1948).

A.C. Dep who later became a vice president of the athletics governing body was the winner of both the 120 yards hurdles (16.8 secs) and the pole vault. It was a time when jumpers would land on sawdust or coir dust pits after clearing. Dep who cleared 11 feet 2 ½ inches to win the pole vault at the 1945 edition held the national record for 26 years from 1936 to 1962. His national record was 12 feet and 7.5 inches.

He was not the only athlete from this competition to have become an athletics official. Upali S Gooneratne who also later became a vice president was placed second in the 100 yards. Gooneratne was a national record holder in the 100 yards. He established the record (10.1 secs) in 1938.

Another athlete of note was Chandra Senanayake who won the Discus throw for Police Sports Club with a feat of 112 feet and three inches. He was placed second in the shot put. Senanayake held the national discus throw record for 28 years, improving it ten times from 100 feet to 130 feet.

H.M.P. Perera who later became a medical doctor was probably the most prominent athlete of all. Perera representing Nemeans Sports Club won both the 220 yards (23.6 secs) and the 440 yards (51.4 secs). Perera held the national record of the 440 yards for 23 years from 1939 and produced Asia’s fastest time of the distance 49.5 seconds at an Indo-Lanka dual in 1946. At the same meet which was held in Bangalore, Duncan White ran an Asian record time of 54.9 seconds to win the hurdles.

The quarter mile specialist Perera was unbeaten at National Championships. His name appears as the winner of nationals in 1938, 39, 41, 42, 43, 45 and 50.

The event was also notable for G.D.H. Karunaratne as he clinched his third consecutive 880 yards title.

The women’s competition was dominated by Shirly Thomas and Olga Walker who won two events each. Shirly Thomas, a national record holder in both the 100 yards and the 200 yards won the sprints, while Walker won the two field events. Thomas’ records in the two sprint events were 12.2 seconds and 28.4 seconds. (Statistics for this story were provided by Sri Lanka Athletics statistician Saman Kumara Gunawardena)

Results of the 1945 National Athletics Championship


100 yards: 1. B.C. Henricus (Navy) 10.1secs., 2. Upali S Gooneratne (Prisons Sports Club), 3. W.T. Saunders (Jaffna College)

220 yards:

1. H.M.P. Perera (Nemeans Sports Club) 23.6secs., 2. W.T. Saunders (Jaffna College), 3. F.H. Brohier (Ace Athletic Club)

440 yards:

1. H.M.P. Perera (Nemeans Sports Club) 51.4secs., 2. J. Xavier (Navy), 3. P. Raymond (Army)

880 yards:

1. G.D.H. Karunaratne (Johnians Sports Club) 2:08.0secs., 2. J.S.L. White (Government Services SC), 3. K.W. Piyasiri (Vidyartha College)

1 Mile:

1. J.W.S.T. Gunasekara (Army) 4:50.4 secs., 2. L.A. De Soysa (Ace Athletic Club), 3. M.B. Rathnayake (Prisons Sports Club)

3 Miles:

1. L.A. De Soysa (Ace Athletic Club) 16:33.9secs., 2. M.B. Rathnayake (Prisons Sports Club), 3. R. Suithaly (Army)

120 yards Hurdles:

1. A.C. Dep (Police Sports Club) 16.8secs., 2. T.L. Blaze (Nemeans Sports Club), 3 T. Fillil (Police Sports Club)

440 yards Hurdles:

1. A.M. Xavier (Navy) 59.0secs. 2. R.R. Scott (Police Sports Club), 3. T.L. Blaze (Nemeans Sports Club)

High Jump:

1. R.R. Peiris (Ace Athletic Club) 5 ft 10 ¼ ins, 2. E.W. Labrooy (Excise Department), 3. D.J.C. Jayamaha (Excise Department)

Pole Vault:

1. A.C. Dep (Police SC) 11 ft 2 ½ ins, 2. K. Chelvadurai (Nemeans Sports Club), 3. T.M.T. Gunawardene (Nemeans Sports Club)

Long Jump:

1. G.D. Peiris (Y.M.C.A.) 22 ft 0 ins, 2. J.P.K. Fernando (Excise Department), 3. J.V. Wijeratne (Y.M.C.A.)

Triple Jump:

1. G.D. Peiris (Y.M.C.A.) 45 ft 9 ¾ ins, 2. C.S. Joseph (Old Josehepians SC), 3. J.P.K. Fernando (Excise Department)

Shot Put:

1. C.P.O. Atherton (Navy) 38 ft 10 ins, 2. Chandra Senanayake (Police Sports Club), 3. D.S. Thambiyah (Police Sports Club)

Discus Throw:

1. Chandra Senanayake (Police Sports Club) 112 ft3 ins, 2. L.C. Goonaratne (Ace Athletic Club), 3. C.P.O. Atherton (Navy)

Javelin Throw:

1. B.C. Da Silva (Nemeans Sports Club) 171 ft 1 ins, 2. L.C. Goonaratne (Ace Athletic Club), 3. V.R. Fernando (Silverline SC)



100 yards

: 1. Shirly Thomas (Unattached) 12.6 secs., 2. Y. Menzies (Navy), 3. Olga Walker (University)

220 yards:

1. Shirly Thomas 28.6secs. , 2. Y. Menzies, 3. Olga Walker

High Jump:

1. Olga Walker 4 ft 2 ins, 2. E.Garrett (W.R.N.S.), 3. Silvia Vanderziel (Unattached)

Long Jump:

1. Olga Walker 15 ft 3 ins, 2. Shirly Thomas, 3. M. Nathanielsz (Methodist College)

440 yards (Invitation School Boys):

1. G.A. Van Twest (St. Sylvester’s College) 56.3secs., 2. S. Suntharalingam (Hartley College), 3. Norton Perera (St. Joseph’s)

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The brand of cricket we want to play is free and relaxed:  – Sangakkara



The 2008 IPL champions employed five opening pairs in the previous edition.

As many as five opening pairs were experimented with by the Rajasthan Royals last season. Ahead of their season opener against Punjab Kings, Sanju Samson, the newly-appointed captain of the franchise says that this year around, more stability can be expected from the side that chopped and changed so much to the extent of being unable to settle on a side until much later in the tournament.

“Myself and Sanga will try to give the best combination,” said Samson on Sunday (April 11). “From my point of view, it’s crucial to give an individual or a pair of opening partners enough time in the tournament. So, I think a bit of stability will be seen in this tournament. The rest it depends on how we go.”

Much has been debated about the batting order. Whilst Jos Buttler’s record at the top speaks for itself, Ben Stokes has been their go-to man for the opening slot. With Robin Uthappa gone this year, will they persist with Stokes at the top with Yashasvi Jaiswal, or will they promote Buttler up to a position he loves? Without committing too much either way about their preferred sequence, Kumar Sangakkara, the director of cricket at the Royals said the combination will be a decision they will undertake with the “full buying of the players involved”.

“We look to finalise (combinations) later on today before we go for training and we want we want to keep our options open,” said Sangakkara. “The most important thing is that players are communicated to clearly as to what their roles are and get them to commit to it.

“What we planned to do is get a balanced side, everyone available, a full squad, try and have a consistent philosophy of cricket. The brand of cricket that we want to play is quite free and relaxed. Also in terms of preparing well and executing well… to get everyone prepared to think and to be problem-solvers. To think for themselves. It helps Sanju a lot on the field when people are thinking for themselves and know what’s going on. It builds a lot of trust within the group as well. Everyone has individual strengths that they bring into the side which are highly valued. We try and build that into a good unit where everyone knows what they’re doing, what their value is and what their roles are. Then we’ll go and try to play some good cricket.”

An overhaul in how the Royals went about their business was needed, having had finished last in 2020. Rajasthan just couldn’t crack the code of winning matches consistently and a lot of it had to do with the lack of the team striking together. There were moments of brilliance before they fell back.

“We have a lot of match-winners who are absolutely wonderful players…in Sanju Samson, Rahul Tewatia, our fast bowlers. The key is to have different people who do something a little bit special on the day and the point of a great team performance is to have your regular players performing consistently and once in a while. Someone stepping in to do a little bit extra. If it’s a different player most of the time and not the same person, it’s even better.”

Another area of concern last year was the lack of support from the contingent of pace bowlers around Jofra Archer, who was named MVP. Archer missing the first few games will be a big blow for Rajasthan. Sangakkara, however, threw his support behind the inexperienced Indian bowlers in their squad to come good.

“I think inexperience sometimes can work for you and against. Inexperience would probably mean that the opposition has not really seen them either, but fast bowling, specially in the IPL is not an easy task and we saw that yesterday as well. Sometimes the wickets are really good for batting or most of the wickets are, so you have to be quite skillful. So I’m pretty confident that our young fast bowlers will step up. We’ve had Kartik Tyagi who did very well last season in patches in various phases of the game and this year we have a new additions in Kuldip Yadav and Chetan Sakariya. So I think it’s about you know keeping them again focused on what their job is really and get them trained and prepared to execute all the different deliveries and scenarios and match plans for the opposition. But at the same time concentrate in giving them confidence of their own strengths.”

When asked if despite all his years in the game, the highs and lows, he feels pressure of expectations in his new role, Sangakkara didn’t mince his words.

“I think there are always expectations and pressure. You can’t get away from that and you got to accept it. And the only way you deal with it is really, you know ticking off the boxes that you want in terms of training, in terms of preparation, getting combinations right. Get the players involved take ownership of not their own roles, but also the team plans and that makes things a lot easier. You can’t guarantee what will happen on the day of a match, but what you can guarantee is that you can go out and control what you control. Take a great attitude out, and Sanju always talks about playing with passion and with heart. I think that’s a very important point as well. That can really lift a team to do some special things out there when the pressure is on.

“So for me personally, know my job is to get everyone ready and once they get on the field my job is actually secondary. It’s about them going out there and expressing themselves playing really good smart cricket. But we wait and see. I think everyone’s really looking forward to starting the tournament,” he added.



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Sheran’s back to back half centuries help Joes



Under-19 Cricket

Back to back half centuries by Sheran Fonseka stood in good stead for St. Joseph’s as they forced a draw to their First XI cricket encounter against S. Thomas’ at Darley Road on Monday. Thus they retained the Gilmore Jayasuriya Trophy which they won under the captaincy of Sameera Weerasinghe in 2009.

Commencing from 344 for nine overnight, the Thomians declared their innings after Yasiru Rodrigo completed his century, an unbeaten 103 runs.

It was Rodrigo’s day as he followed up his century with a three wicket haul to trouble the home team.

The Joes lost wickets at regular intervals but Fonseka’s contribution helped them post 176 for nine wickets declared. Soon they were asked to follow on but the open batsmen put up a healthy stand to prevent a repetition of first innings disappointments.

Fonseka scored an unbeaten 57 runs and was involved in a first wicket stand of 123 runs with Sadeesh Jayawardena who scored 62.

Meanwhile the match between Mahanama and St. Anne’s ended in a draw at Kurunegala after the home team posted 164 for nine wickets in reply to visitors’ 169 runs.

Match Results

S. Thomas’ V St. Joseph’s at

Darley Road

S. Thomas’ 344 for 9 overnight 350 for 9 decl. in 103 overs (Anuk Palihawadena 54, Ryan Fernando 71, Thenuka Liyanage 36, Yasiru Rodrigo 103 n.o., Gunaratnam Caniston 53; Dunith Wellalage 3/111, Shenuka de Silva 2/13)

St. Joseph’s 176 for 9 decl. in 51 overs (Sheran Fonseka 92, Mithira Thenura 20; Yasiru Rodrigo 3/48, Gunaratnam Caniston 3/42, Anuk Palihawadena 2/48) and 127 for 1 in 31 overs (Sadeesh Jayawardena 62, Sheran Fonseka 57n.o.)

Mahanama V St. Anne’s at Kurunegala

Mahanama 169 all out in 71.2 overs (Sadishan Chamodya 22, Pavan Rathnayake 81, Sachira Weliwatta 23; Pasindu Tennakoon 4/51, Manaan Muzammil 2/49, Kalindu Wijesinghe 2/28)

St. Anne’s 79 for 1 overnight 164 for 9 in 69 overs (Dilhara Deshabandu 39, Kavindu Ekanayake 43, Pivithu Fernando 22, Shevan Nimantha 20; Devindu Kekirideniya 4/57 ) (RF)

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Dahamdi, Esha win Round Robin stage



Sri Lanka Girls U-14 Chess Grand Prix 2021

Sanudula Dahamdi of Musaeus College and Esha Pallie of Visakha Vidyalaya were the winners of Group ‘X’ and ‘Y’ respectively at the end of the Round Robin stage of the Sri Lanka Youth Girls’ (Under-14) Chess Grand Prix 2021

Dahamdi was outstanding right throughout as she remained unbeaten to score nine points in nine games. Pallie won Group ‘Y’ with a score of 7 ½ points.

Dahamdi beat L.H.M.G.S. Somarathne, Nemindi Linaya Ramanayake and Sasmi Sithumsa in the second session to remain unbeaten.

Esha had a tough competition in last three rounds with a win against Piyumi Uthpala Amarathunga and a draw against Onwli Vithanawasam. She lost her encounter Tenuli Dahamna Rathnayake.

Nemindi Linaya Ramanayake( Central College, Veyangoda), Tharuli Vihansa Ranganath(Yoshida International School) and Oshini Devindya Gunawardhana (Pushpadana High School) scored 5.5, 5.0 and 5.0 respectively and managed to win second, third and fourth places in Group ‘X’ respectively by selecting to the quarter finals.

Oneli Vithanawasam (Lyceum International, Wattala), Desandhi Dhihansa Gamage (Sirimavo Bandaranayake BV) and Tenuli Dhahamna Rathnayake (Gothami Balika Vidyalaya) were placed second, third and fourth in Group ‘Y’.

Esha Pallie, Oneli Vithanawasam, Desandhi Gamage and Dhahamna Rathnayake are now in the quarter-finals.

The top four players in Group ‘X’ and ‘Y’ will play a knocked out rounds.

The Youth Girls Chess Grand Prix 2021 which commenced on April 2 with 18 leading Girls Under 14 Chess players will culminate on April 16.

Quarter Finals

A – Q/F 1 – X winner V Y 4th – Dahamdi V Tenuli

B – Q/F 2 – Y Winner V X 4th – Esha Pallie V Oshini

C – Q/F 3 – X Runner Up V Y 3rd – Nemindi V Desandi

D – Q/F 4 – Y Runner Up V X 3rd – Oneli V Tharuli

The Chess Federation of Sri Lanka is offering Rs. 55,000/= as cash awards for the winners.

The event is held according to the strict health guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health and The Medical Unit of Ministry of Sports.

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