by Reemus Fernando
Respected track and field coach Sajith Jayalal, the guru behind the success of highest ranked Sri Lankan athlete, believes that achieving tough Olympic qualifying standards is a matter of proper management of athletes and coordination of a diverse range of professionals from psychologists, nutritionists to doctors to get the best out of top athletes. “You don’t need big investments on infrastructure to achieve top performances. You can leap-frog to top international standards without being stagnated at Asian level if you can make available the services of professionals who can address nutritional, health, psychological and other issues of athletes,” said Jayalal in an interview with The Island.
Jayalal who is also the Director of the National Institute of Sports Sciences has trained numerous athletes to excel at international level and is the coach of steeplechaser Nilani Ratnayake who has come closer to achieving Olympic qualifying standards in track and field sports. In the absence of her pet event Ratnayake clinched two golds in her supporting events (1,500m, 5,000m) at the last South Asian Games.
“Look at the number of professionals working around athletes winning at Asian level. There is the coach, the officials from the federation, physio, psychologist, nutritionist and many others. These professionals work together to improve standards. I urge authorities to get involved to make this happen here. The coach is isolated here. You don’t need to spend big to achieve this,” Jayalal opined.
“At junior level, a coach can play several roles but at elite level it is different. You need only to have a system in place. I have under me several athletes who win at Asian level. There are others who train such athletes. If they can obtain the support of these professionals I have mentioned, Sri Lanka can win big,” said Jayalal.
“Coach should do the technical part. The training part. There are people who are willing to support without monetary gain. I am speaking as a coach not as the Director of an institution attached to the ministry of Sports. I am coaching because I have a burning desire to do that. I am not paid for coaching. There are people like that. Doctors, nutritionists and others who are willing to help. What we need is that help. Not money. What we need is the mechanism to bring these resource persons together to support elite athletes.
Jayalal also stressed the importance of managing athletes and their affairs. “I have had enough talented athletes but there was no one to manage them apart from me. There should be someone from the Association to manage the athletes in the elite pool. There should be a qualified individual to do that. For example I am not willing to send my athletes to Colombo from Boralanda even for a meeting conducted by Sri Lanka Athletics if that meeting falls during a peak training week. By sending my athletes I will be ruining the whole build up to that week. Since my athlete is not coming to the meeting, some other athlete in Colombo also takes that as an excuse to skip the meeting. I have to negotiate with the head of Sri Lanka Athletics to resolve matters. These matters should be taken care of by a manager. Managing these is a different area when it comes to elite level.”
Absence of quality and safe supplements for recovery has been the bone of contention. The veteran coach stressed the importance of regulating supplements. “We are afraid of taking protein supplements because there are no safe places to purchase them. If we do not provide athletes with correct nutrients and legal means of obtaining them then they will opt to take what ever available. There should be some responsible institution or company who could be trusted to provide pure protein supplements not contaminated with banned substances.”
Sajith Jayalal has dozens of his elite athletes engaged in high altitude training at Boralanda where the climatic conditions remain dry making it possible to maintain an uninterrupted training programme compared to Nuwara Eliya. While Ratnayake is based in Diyatalawa with Sri Lanka Army looking after the well-being of the athlete, some of his other elite athletes are housed at a rented place in Boralanda.
Speaking on Sri Lanka’s prospects of qualifying for Olympics Jayalal had this to say.
“Olympic qualifying standard have become tough. But if we prepare strategically we can qualify in several events. We can have hopes on the mix relay. Qualifying in the 100 metres relays will be really tough. According to what we observed before the lock down we had a chance in 400 metres relays. If we manage the athletes properly we can have hopes of qualifying. Hiruni Wijeratne (marathoner) is already doing well in the US. Then we have Sumeda Ranasinghe (javelin thrower), Nilani Ratnayake, even the two women’s 800 metres runners (Gayanthika Abeyratne and Nimali Liyanarachchi). Though the qualifying standards is high if they can break the national record they might come closer achieving entry standards. Then we have the men’s long jumpers. If five of our athletes could qualify for Olympics then we can build on that to succeed at regional international events. Coaches should work hard to achieve that.”
Lack of quality competitions had hampered the preparation of many a top level athlete in the past. The prevailing health issues around the world emanating from the Covid 19 pandemic has worsened the situation preventing the possibilities of taking part in competitions overseas in the immediate future. Jayalal said that tough competitions were necessary to improve standards. “We do not have proper competitions. We get Singapore Open or Thailand Open. We don’t get challenged at those races. We win by big leads there. For the elite athletes we need tough competitions. Where we get beaten. We must compete in competitions in Kazakhstan, Bahrain and India and if possible events in the European circuit where we can strive to be among the first five.”
Murali hospitalised for cardiac treatment
Muralitharan was at the Chepauk when Sunrisers played Mumbai Indians on Saturday, incidentally his 49 birthday. © BCCI/IPL
Sri Lankan cricket legend Muttiah Muralitharan, who is part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad support staff in the ongoing IPL, has undergone an angioplasty in Madras.
It was reported that the champion off-spinner “had a stent fitted to unblock an artery, and will rejoin Sunrisers Hyderabad when discharged.
He has been the bowling coach and mentor of Sunrisers Hyderabad since 2015. His team has suffered three losses in a row this season.
Dilhara Lokuhettige gets eight-year ban for corruption
Dilhara Lokuhettige had been slapped with corruption charges in April 2019
“The severity of the sanction reflects the seriousness of his offences and his continued refusal to cooperate”
Dilhara Lokuhettige, the former Sri Lanka allrounder, has been banned from all cricket for eight years by the ICC anti-corruption tribunal after being found guilty of breaching the ICC’s anti-corruption code on three counts.
Lokuhettige had been slapped with corruption charges in April 2019, five months after the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) had also charged him. The charges relate to the 2017 T10 tournament played in the UAE, which is why the ECB had been first to lay charges.
In January this year, the tribunal found Lokuhettige guilty of:
Article 2.1.1 – for being party to an agreement or effort to fix or contrive or otherwise influence improperly the result, progress, conduct or other aspect(s) of a match.
Article 2.1.4 – directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging or intentionally facilitating any participant to breach code article 2.1.
Article 2.4.4 – failing to disclose to the ACU full details of any approaches or invitations received to engage in corrupt conduct under the code.
“Having represented Sri Lanka in international cricket, Dilhara had attended a number of anti-corruption education sessions and would have known his actions were a breach of the Code,” Alex Marshall, the ICC general manager – anti corruption, said. “The severity of the sanction reflects the seriousness of his offences and his continued refusal to cooperate and should serve as a deterrent for anyone considering getting involved in corruption of any kind.”
An Al Jazeera documentary on cricket corruption in Sri Lanka had initially raised concerns about Lokuhettige. In that, Lokuhettige was seen to be in the room when another former Sri Lanka cricketer was talking to an alleged corruptor, as well as an Al Jazeera journalist posing as a prospective bettor.
Former Sri Lanka seamer Nuwan Zoysa was also found guilty of three corruption-related offences to do with that T10 tournament in November last year. Zoysa has since denied any wrongdoing.
Zoysa and Lokuhettige are the third and fourth former Sri Lanka players to be charged with corruption. Sanath Jayasuriya was the most high-profile cricketer to cop charges, and has served out a two-year suspension from the game, while former offspinner and sometime Galle curator Jayananda Warnaweera was the first to be charged with corruption by the ICC.
As Lokuhettige has been living in Australia and held no positions with Sri Lankan cricket, he has not faced a sanctions from the SLC so far.
He played 11 white-ball internationals for Sri Lanka, picking up eight wickets to go with 101 runs with the bat. His last competitive game was a first-class fixture for Moors Sports Club in February 2016.
Royal, Trinity march into semis as Ahan continues top form
Royal College marched into the semi-finals of the Under-19 Division I Tier ‘A’ tournament with a convincing six wickets victory over Nalanda as they stopped the team inclusive of at least two leading players of the tournament at the quarter-final hurdle on Monday.
Chasing 190 runs to win, the tournament’s leading batsman Ahan Wickramasinghe scored an unbeaten 71 runs for Royal to seal the semi-final place with 11 overs to spare. Dasis Manchanayake who took three Nalanda wickets also chipped in with 22 runs.
Wickramasinghe has scored over 400 runs now in six matches. Raveen de Silva who scored an unbeaten half century and Vinuja Ranpul who chipped in with 22 runs for Nalanda are the tournament’s second and third highest run scorers. .
In the other Tier ‘A’ quarter-final played on Monday, Trinity beat St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa by seven wickets to book their semi-final place.
While Royal meet the winners of the match between St. Anthony’s, Katugastota and Mahanama, Colombo in the semi-final, Trinity will encounter the winners of the quarter-final between Richmond and St. Joseph’s.
In the Division II Tier ‘A’ tournament, Lyceum International School, Wattala continued their impressive run as they edged out Rahula College, Matara in the quarter-final.
Division I Tier A
Royal beat Nalanda at Mount Lavinia
189 for 7 in 50 overs (Rashan Dissanayake 30, Nadil Jayakody 32, Vinuja Ranpul 22, Raveen de Silva 59n.o.; Dasis Manchanayake 3/17)
191 for 4 in 39 overs (Sineh Jayawardena 60, Isiwara Dissanayake 21, Ahan Wickramasinghe 71n.o., Dasis Manchanayake 22; Dineth Samaraweera 2/32)
Trinity beat St. Sebastian’s at Reid Avenue
131 all out in 43.2 overs (Yashan Avishka 51, Savindu Rodrigo 30; Dinuka Thennakoon 4/23, Abishek Anandakumar 3/37)
133 for 3 in 30.1 overs (Thevin Amarasinghe 39, Umair Raizan 60, Pawan Pathiraja 21n.o.; Sadeesh Fernando 3/39)
Division II Tier ‘A’
Lyceum beat Rahula at Darley Road
148 all out in 42.1 overs (Gamitha Pawan 61, Jaron Fernando 20, Theekshana Shehan 26; Binura Sanketh 2/17, Sandew Rithmaka 3/27)
117 all out in 42.2 overs (Tharindu Rajapaksha 52, Binura Sanketh 24; Mohammed Rifnaz 2/23, Mithush Lakshman 3/14)
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