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Revisiting National Athletics Championships of 1945

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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

MEN

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)

 

WOMEN

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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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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