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SL Athletics requests a mechanism to introduce promising athletes to top coaches



Sri Lanka Athletics has requested the intervention of the National High Performance Sports Committee to help set up a system to get talented athletes trained under the supervision of qualified high performance coaches. In this file picture junior athletes are seen competing in the 100 metres at a junior event at the Sugathadasa Stadium. (File pic by Kamal Wanniarachchi)

by Reemus Fernando

Apart from developing infrastructure and training facilities, the Sri Lanka Athletics has highlighted at a meeting with Tier 1 of National High Performance Sports Committee inclusive of Julian Bolling and Sports Council head Mahela Jayawardena on Monday the need to set up a mechanism for talented athletes identified at grass root level to reach high performance coaches.

“One of the reasons for lack of medals at international level after the mid 2000s was promising athletes not being trained by qualified coaches. During the 90s and the early 2000s the country won medals at International level including the Olympics, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. During that time the cream of country’s top athletes were trained by qualified coaches. But after that golden period many promising athletes who were identified at school level continued to remain with their school coaches. We highlighted this as one of the reasons for lack of medals at international level and we requested the intervention of the National High Performance Sports Committee to help set up a system to get talented athletes trained under the supervision of qualified high performance coaches,” Saman Kumara Gunawardhana, the statistician of Sri Lanka Athletics said.

Stating that the meeting with the National High Performance Sports Committee was fruitful the official said: “We highlighted the need to develop infrastructure, need to obtain expertise of foreign coaches and a system to get talented athletes to train under qualified coaches. There was a system during the 90s where the PTIs and the Sports Officers identified the talent at grass root level and introduced those athletes to top national coaches. It resulted in athletes winning at international level. Lately the coaches at grass root level were reluctant to introduce their athletes to top coaches. There was a time when top coaches like Derwin Perera and Sunil Gunawardena did not have up and coming athletes coming to them.”

“We tried to address the problem by introducing a rewards system for coaches at grass root level. But still there are coaches who are reluctant to introduce their athletes to top coaches,” he said.

As highlighted by Sri Lanka Athletics there is a genuine need to introduce such a system but there are many other reasons for the dearth of medals during the last one and half decades at international level in track and field sports.

Sri Lanka Athletics provided a list of athletes who have been among the top 20 performers in Asia in 2019 to the National High Performance Sports Committee and had stressed the need to have the synthetic track relayed at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium, Diyagama and increasing the office space of Sri Lanka Athletics headquarters at Torrington for which the Committee had responded positively.


Eight Sri Lanka cricketers fail fitness tests



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



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  



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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