Sajeewa wins bronze at the World Military Boxing Championships
Sri Lanka’s leading light fly weight (49kg) pugilist Sajeewa Nuwan Kumara of the Army lived up to his promise to deliver on the international stage by winning a bronze medal at the 58th World Military Boxing Championships in Russia. Armed with sound technique, the 29-year-old Lance Corporal has been almost unbeatable at home but has been found wanting against international opposition even failing to win a medal at the 2019 South Asian Games in Kathmandu. However, the two-time national champion who has carried away the Best Boxer awards in all three major local meets – Layton Cup, Clifford Cup and the Nationals – in the recent past, dispelled any doubts that he lacked the temperament to perform on the big stage when he fought the fight of his life to beat Mozambique’s Yassine Nordine Issufo in the quarter-final.
Sajeewa Nuwan dominated the opening round out-boxing and outscoring the southpaw and displaying quicksilver footwork to slip away when his opponent attacked. However, he changed tactics in the next two rounds fighting toe-to-toe and aggressively with tenacity against his tough adversary. It turned out to be a scrappy affair with the referee having to break them from clinching often. Nonetheless, the Sri Lankan soldier landed enough scoring blows especially solid rights to earn a split decision. Sajeewa lost to Leanderso Conceicao Siqueira of Brazil in the semifinals.
Army’s Ishan Bandara who has displayed indifferent form since winning a bronze medal at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, showed that he is not a spent force when he advanced to the quarter-finals in the fly weight (52kg) category defeating Pakistan’s Muhammad Dawood with the bout being stopped in the third round because of an injury. Up against a southpaw Damir Abdikadir from Kazakhstan who stopped Aliaksandr Butrym of Belarus, Bandara gave another good account of himself though the volume of punches he threw was less. The Kazak fighter craftily maintained his distance to outbox Bandara who attempted to stun his opponent with solid rights. Bandara did finish strongly being on target in the final round but it was too little too late, missing out on a podium finish.
Sri Lanka were also assured of another bronze medal when Gayani Nisansala competed in the semifinals of the middle weight (75kg) category against Viktoriya Kebikava of Belarus.
The rest of the 15-member strong Sri Lanka team were eliminated in the preliminaries with leading woman pugilist Sajeewani Cooray failing to go the distance against France’s LoryeRuyer in the light weight (57kg) contest.
Fly weight boxer Sanduni Priyadarshani was outpointed by world champion Ekateria Paltseva of Russia while Barbara dos Santos from Brazil had a fast victory over Kashmi Thiwanka in the first round of 69kg contest. The other Sri Lankan boxers lost unanimous decisions to fighters from Jordan, Kazakshtan and Iran.
Boxing Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) president Dian Gomes was buoyed by the medal winning effort of Sajeewa Nuwan.”We have three bronze medals from the recent past. Nadeeka Ranasinghe at the Asian Championships in Dubai and Sajeewa Nuwan Kumara and Saduni Kaluarachchi at the World Military Championship, proving yet again that boxing has the potential to win medals in the international arena,” said Gomes.
Kipyegon breaks world 1500m record with 3:49.11 in Florence
Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon captured the world record she had been hunting, winning the women’s 1500m in a stunning 3:49.11* at the Golden Gala, the third Wanda Diamond League meeting of the season, in Florence on Friday (2).
The two-time Olympic and two-time world champion was already the second-fastest women’s 1500m runner of all time thanks to the 3:50.37 she clocked in Monaco in August, when she missed the world record of 3:50.07 set by Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba in 2015 by just 0.3.
This time, Kipyegon blew the mark apart, becoming the first woman to break 3:50 in the discipline and taking almost a second off the previous record.
Kipyegon had been open about her world record ambition in 2023. “The record is in my heart and on my mind and I hope this will be a perfect year for me,” she said on the eve of the Golden Gala.
She has started it in sensational style.
On Friday evening Kipyegon followed the pacemakers Brooke Feldmeier and Sage Hurta-Klecker through 400m in 1:02.37 and Hurta-Klecker was right on schedule through 800m in 2:04.00, with Kipyegon on her shoulder.
As Hurta-Klecker moved to the side, Kipyegon forged on and reached 1200m in 3:05.28. In a race of her own, she pushed again and was roared over the finish line, past a clock showing 3:49.11. She raised her hands to her face and then dropped to the track in delight.
Behind her, Britain’s Laura Muir finished second in 3:57.09, while Australia’s Jessica Hull was third in an area record of 3:57.29, and the field came together after the race to celebrate with Kipyegon.
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Afghanistan cruise to comfortable win after Zadran 98
Opening batsman Ibrahim Zadran scored a fine 98 to help Afghanistan to a comfortable six wicket win with 19 balls to spare in the first ODI against Sri Lanka at Suriyawewa on Friday. Chasing a target of 269, the tourists reached home in 46.5 overs with Zadran sharing a second wicket partnership worth 146 runs with Rahmat Shah. Zadran one of the brightest young batting talents to come through from Afghanistan has already scored three hundreds in nine games and he nearly had a fourth one on Friday before being dismissed two runs short of the milestone.
The 21-year-old was expected to play the anchor role but he wasn’t afraid to punish the loose balls as he raced to his half-century in just 35 balls. He whipped Matheesha Pathirana for two sixes in an over as the debutant fresh from his IPL heroics failed to live up to the expectations conceding 66 runs in his 8.5 overs.
A bouncer by Kasun Rajitha helped Sri Lanka claim the key wicket of Zadran as the batsman attempted a pull shot but couldn’t keep it down and was caught in the deep. Zadran made a run a ball 98 and hit 11 fours and two sixes.
Rahmat Shah went onto post 55 that came off 80 deliveries with three fours.
Nothing much went right for Sri Lanka who are using the series as preparation for the World Cup qualifiers later this month in Zimbabwe. Fast bowler Lahiru Kumara had to pull out after sending down just 4.3 overs with a hamstring strain.
Sri Lanka got off to a poor start losing four wickets for 84 runs inside 20 overs before Charith Asalanka rescued them top scoring with 91 runs. Asalanka added 99 runs for the fifth wicket with Dhananjaya de Silva, who chipped in with a half-century.
When captain Dasun Shanaka was dismissed with the total on 215 for six with seven overs remaining, Sri Lanka were in danger of getting bowled out without utilizing their 50 overs. But Asalanka found a solid partner in debutant Dushan Hemantha as they added 48 runs for the seventh wicket.
Asalanka was run out in the last over with his 91 coming off 95 deliveries with 12 boundaries. Left-arm quicks Fazalhaq Farooqi and Fareed Ahmad picked up two wickets apiece. The second ODI will be played on 4th June followed by the final game on June 7th. All games will be at Suriyawewa.
Sri Lanka 268 all out in 50 overs (Charith Asalanka 91, Dhananjaya de Silva 51, Pathum Nissanka 38, Dushan Hemantha 22, Fazalhaq Farooqi 2-58, Fareed Ahmad 2-43.
Afghanistan 269 for four (Ibrahim Zadran 98, Rahmat Shah 55, Hashmatullah Shahidi 38, Kasun Rajitha 2-49)
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