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SL Athletics team leaves for India with new ‘BELIEVE’ kits



National athletes who left the island yesterday (23rd) to compete in the 65th Interstate Athletics Championship in Patiala, India were geared with new competition kits by ‘BELIEVE’ Sportswear.

‘Believe’ is the sports and active wear arm of Ceylon Sports which is to be launched in the near future. The groundbreaking initiative by Ceylon Sports will see international style running gear manufactured in Sri Lanka for the first time. The trendy and modern collection include a wide range of sports gear seen in international competitions in the likes of two-piece running kits, one piece running kits, stylish calf wraps, headbands, warm up wear which are especially manufactured in consultation with experts. With the help of experts and athletes, ‘Believe’ has created customized collections for each athletic discipline named ‘Run’, ‘Jump’, ‘Throw’ which will cater to specific needs of the respective events.

‘We are grateful to ‘BELIEVE’ sportswear for providing kits for the National athletic team who will be competing at the 65th Interstate Athletics Championship in Patiala, India. The Athletes will be pushing for Olympic qualification, and we are thankful to ‘BELIEVE’ for coming forward to support our athletes. We hope to continue this partnership for all future National team involvements,” said Maj.Gen Palitha Fernando, President -Sri Lanka Athletics, expressing his admiration.

The team which took wing to India yesterday consists four athletes who are on the borderline of the Olympic qualification quota. Nilani Ratnayake who is already within the Olympic quota is also part of the team. The addition of women’s 4x100m relay team is a notable move as it is the first time they feature in an overseas competition outside the South Asian Games in 2016 and 2019. The team comprises of the first five athletes at the last National Athletics Championship. Four of the five athletes are below 21 years. Amasha de Silva, Shelinda Jansen, Medhani Jayamanne and Safiya Yamic will compete in the relay, while hurdler Lakshika Sugandhi is included as the fifth member.

Young sprinter, Shelinda Jansen of youth Olympic fame also expressed her admiration of ‘BELIVE’ sportswear. “It’s brilliant that Ceylon Sports have come up with the ‘BELIVE’ sportswear, as a young female athlete it’s very difficult to find trendy comfortable running gear in Sri Lanka for a decent price, I ran in ‘BELEIVE’ gear at the Nationals, and it was a perfect fit. I am excited to don this gear in India.”

Ceylon Sports provided running kits for athletes during the National Athletics championship and National Trials held at the Sugathadasa Stadium earlier this year and are hoping to join hands for upcoming International events such as World Junior Championship, Asian Athletics Championship, Asian Junior Championship and World Athletics championship 2022.

Ceylon Sports & Ceylon Athletics was Sri Lanka’s first web and social media platform which initiated providing much needed context and awareness on Sri Lankan Athletics aiding in the upliftment of the sport at a time athletics in the country was experiencing a dip in popularity. With several campaigns and coverage which included live streaming of all National and major international events and unique coverage methods it was able to increase athletes’ interest and desire for better performance while was able to bring fans back to athletics.

Extending beyond popularizing the sport, Ceylon Sports identified that Sri Lankan athletes did not have an avenue to get affordable international style running gear which will provide comfort during the events apart from paying hefty sums for major global brands.

‘BELIEVE’ is eyeing to fulfill this requirement in the local market and will soon be available for purchase online. National athletes will receive special discounts while a percentage of the income will be used to create a charity fund which will help underprivileged athletes, a service Ceylon Sports has been engaged in silence for many years.

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Uncle Percy is 85 today



by Rex Clementine  

Cheerleader Percy Abeysekara turns 85 today. In his own words, ‘two years younger than Sir Garry Sobers and fitter than Sobers.’  

 Percy has been around cricket grounds cheering his beloved Sri Lanka and his favourite players for over 50 years now. Percy has many high profile friends in the sport.  

 Former India captain Ravi Shastri once wrote, ‘Percy, don’t lose your voice. Sri Lanka needs it more than you.’  

 Former New Zealand captain late Martin Crowe once gave away his Man of the Match award to Percy.  

 Once Percy was arrested in Australia; for entering the field of play. Michael Clarke and Adam Gilchrist protested. ‘Don’t make this an international crisis,’ they warned. Percy has friends even in the Aussie dressing room.  

 Cops in Australia are hard-nosed. They apparently give too hoots about what their Prime Minister thinks when it comes to implementing the law. But the few hours that Percy spent with them made them realize that this was not an overenthusiastic cricket fan. This is someone who had seen Don Bradman, Keith Miller, Neil Harvey et al.  

 Percy then asked the cops whether they knew the best advice Vic Richardson, Australia’s former captain gave his grandson Ian Chappell. They said no. ‘If you ever get a chance to captain Australia, don’t do it like a Victorian.’   

Now the arrest happened in the tiny city of Hobart in the small state of Tasmania. The cops actually were having a laugh that an outsider was taking a dig at a larger state. Percy knew the Aussie mentality.  

 He didn’t stop there. He quoted Shakespeare and Donne and the cops were overwhelmed. Not only was he let off without being charged, the cops were also seen taking pictures with Percy, an international icon.  

 Percy’s wit is his best friend.  

 Once a fan shouted. ‘Percy go home.’  

 Percy asked, Your home’  

 Once late Gamini Dissanayake asked, ‘Percy, why don’t you join the Cricket Board.’  

 Percy said, ‘Sir, there are three palanas I don’t like.  

One is Cricket palana.  

The second is deshapalana.  

The third is upath palana.’   

JR Jayewardene, another President of the board had also asked the same question a few years back. Percy replied him poetically. ‘Sir, I would rather be on the footboard than the Cricket Board.’  

 Here’s a man who has brought smiles to many cricket fans and players. We wish Uncle Percy well.

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Yupun, Nimali expected to provide solace



by Reemus Fernando

When the men’s 10,000 metres was held at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Sri Lanka’s Ranatunga Karunananda was the last to finish but he won the admiration of the hosts. His courageous run to complete the race after the winners had been decided, epitomize the Olympic creed- the most important thing is not to win but to take part. Like Karunananda, Yupun Abeykoon and Nimali Liyanarachchi are not among the top athletes in their disciplines but could take inspiration from the late athlete’s 1964 story when they compete against odds in their respective disciplines.

After witnessing the country’s wildcard entrants being eliminated from the first round in other sports during the last few days, sprinter Yupun Abeykoon and middle distance runner Nimali Liyanarachchi are expected to provide some solace when track and field sports of the Tokyo Olympics starts today.

Nimali Liyanarachchi has a huge burden on her shoulder to change things around when she competes in the women’s 800 metres today.

“Her preparations were hampered due to Covid 19 restrictions. I am banking on her fighting qualities to try and achieve her best performance here,” Nimali’s coach Sujith Abeysekara said in a telephone interview with The Island from Tokyo yesterday.

Nimali will compete in heat four where World Championship silver medallist Raevyn Rogers is the favourite. The US runner has run most of her races under two minutes. Nimali’s seasonal best of 2:03.15 seconds is at odds with her true potentials. But looking back at the hurdles she overcame to earn a wildcard for Olympics, the mere presence of the Sooriyawewa damsel in Tokyo itself is a victory and an encouragement for numerous underprivileged girls from outstations.

She was bedridden after meeting with an accident on the eve of Sri Lanka team’s departure to the South Asian Games in 2019. She spent a better part of the 2020 season on her recovery and when she was just getting ready to compete there were no competitions. On this backdrop even a seasonal best performance at today’s event will be a victory.

Five of her rivals in heat four have run the discipline under two minutes recently and it will be a tough ask for her to advance from the heat. Hence a seasonal best performance would be a realistic target.

Meanwhile, when the world search for a new Olympic champion in the men’s 100 metres after one and half decades, Sri Lanka’s track and field fans will want South Asian 100 metres record holder Yupun to advance from the heats.

Yupun in a social media post said that his goal was to be pressure free and try to advance to the next round. Abeykoon established a new Sri Lanka and South Asian record when he clocked 10.15 seconds in May and produced an outstanding fourth place finish at the Rome Diamond League in June to book a top rank in the world. In his post Yupun also reminded his fans of his Diamond League feat. “I hope everyone remembers the Diamond League I last participated. A lot of things can change in a race that ends between nine to ten seconds. I believe in my abilities and training. I will compete to get a good result.”

Abeykoon will compete in the men’s 100 metres heats on Saturday.

Track and field, the premier Olympic sport will feature many first round events today. However today’s only medal event (final) is the men’s 10,000 metres where Uganda’s world record-holder Joshua Cheptegei and world-leader Jacob Kiplimo are the men to beat.

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Sri Lanka eye series win after restricting India to 81



By Rex Clementine

Birthday boy Wanindu Hasaranga is emerging to be a top class match winner as he claimed career best figures of four for nine on his 24th birthday to help Sri Lanka reduce India to 81 for eight in the third and final T-20 International at RPS yesterday.

It was India’s lowest total against Sri Lanka and their third lowest total in T-20 cricket. 

It was a day where Sri Lanka did not do much wrong with fielders backing up the bowlers with some outstanding catching.  

India needed captain Shikhar Dhawan to score big with half their regulars, close contacts of Krunal Pandya who tested for COVID, in isolation. However, Dhawan departed in the first over and India never recovered from thereon.

Dushmantha Chameera was on the money from the start drawing the Indian captain for a drive and Dhananjaya de Silva at wide slip completed  the catch.

Skipper Dasun Shanaka raised his game remarkably. Terribly out of form with the bat, Shanaka did the job with the ball having brought himself on midway through India’s innings. He took a spectacular left-handed diving catch to dismiss Nitish Rana.

The rest of the bowling was impeccable too keeping up the pressure making run scoring difficult and it looked India were content to bat out the 20 overs to try and see what total they can get at.

Kuldeep Yadav at number seven top scored with an unbeaten 23 that came off 28 balls while Bhuvneshwar Kumar made 16. Opener Ruturaj Gaikwad was the only other to get into double figures as India lacked momentum throughout their innings.

The early damage was done by Hasaranga as India batsmen struggled to pick his straight delivery and were adjudged leg before wicket.

Sri Lanka are set for an easy win and this will be their first ever series victory over India in the shortest format of the game in eight attempts.

Caption: Wanindu Hasaranga claimed career  best figures of four for nine as India were restricted for 81 for eight in the  third T-20 International at RPS yesterday.

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