by Reemus Fernando
After her double gold medal triumph at the Asian Junior Athletics Championships, Ratnayake Central, Walala runner Tharushi Karunaratne will have a bigger challenge ahead when she competes in the senior version of the regional event in Pattaya, Thailand next month.
She has been selected in the Senior Asian Athletics Championship team to compete in two individual and two team events alongside senior counterpart Gayanthika Abeyratne, with whom she shares the top two spots in the list of Asia’s fastest 800 metres runners this season.
The athlete trained by veteran coach Susantha Fernando produced her personal best of 2:01.39 seconds in the 800 metres to upset veteran runner Abeyratne in March before her training regimen was disturbed by an illness. However, despite the setback she lived up to her reputation to win the gold in the 800 metres, silver in the 400 metres and another gold in the mixed relay events at the Asian Junior Championships concluded on Wednesday.
At the Asian Junior Championships in South Korea, she was hardly challenged in her pet event of 800 metres. She clocked 2:05.64 seconds to win gold.
“We have one month to prepare for the Asian Championships. In Korea, she did not have much competition. Because of that, she could not come close to her personal best. Her best chance is in the 800 metres in which we could strive to improve her ranking,” Susantha Fernando told the Sunday Island on his arrival in Sri Lanka last week.
At the Championship which starts on July 12, she will be competing against seniors with the hope of becoming a schoolgirl medallist. Apart from the 400 metres and the 800 metres, Karunaratne is expected to play a key role in the women’s 4×400 meetres and the 4×400 metres mixed relays alongside Nadeesha Ramanayake who will be the other sprinter taking part in the 400 metres individual event.
Nishendra Fernando and Lakshima Mendis are the other two joining the 4×400 metres relay team, Abeyratne is the reserve of the relays. Apart from the 800 metres, Abeyratne will also compete in the 1,500 metres.
Long jumper Sarangi Silva, triple jumper Randi Cooray and javelin thrower Nadeeka Lekamge will compete in field events.
In the men’s category, US-based high jumper Ushan Thiwanka is selected to make a long overdue senior Asian debut and Shreshan Dananjaya is picked for both the long jump and the triple jump.
The new national number one in the men’s 400 metres, Aruna Dharshana and Rajitha Rajakaruna will feature in their pet events, while former number one Kalinga Kumarage and Pabasara Niku join them to form the 4×400 metres relay team. Pasindu Kodikara is the fifth member of the team. Asian Senior Athletics Championships will be held in Pattaya, Thailand from July 12 to 16.
Kalinga, Aruna, Nadeesha qualify for Asian Games finals
by Reemus Fernando
All three Sri Lankan sprinters qualified for the finals of their respective disciplines to give country’s track and field campaign a positive start at the Asian Games on Friday.While Kalinga Kumarage and Aruna Dharshana qualified for the men’s 400 metres final, Asian Championship gold medallist Nadeesha Ramanayake reached the finals of the women’s 400metres.
Ramanayake clocked the third fastest time in the heats to qualify for the finals where Bahrain’s Oluwakemi Kujidat and Salwa Nesar are the strongest contenders for the gold medal.
Competing in the third heat Ramanayake clocked 52.67 seconds to finish second behind Oluwakemi Kujidat. Ramanayake’s time was the third fastest in the heats in the final analysis. While former world champion Salwa Nesar was the winner in the second heat, Shereen Samson of Malaysia won the first heat in a time of 52.89 seconds.
Both Salwa and Oluwakemi Kujidat were not in the fray when Ramanayake won Sri Lanka the gold medal at the recently held Asian Athletics Championship. Ramanayake will have a tough ask today when she competes for Asian Games glory.
In the men’s category 400 metres, Kumarage clocked 45.57 seconds to win his heat, while Aruna Dharshana finished third in his heat in a time of 46.07 seconds.\Kumarage’s 45.54 seconds is the third fastest time in the heats, while Dharshana enters final as the eighth fastest from the heats.
All three sprinters will be eager to create history when they compete in the 400 metres finals. Sri Lanka has not won a medal of any colour in track and field at these Games since 2006.
Sri Lanka won two bronze medals at the Asian Games in Doha. Susanthika Jayasinghe in the women’s 200 metres and the men’s 4×400 metres team of Sugath Thilakaratne, Rohan Pradeep Kumara, Prasanna Amarasekara and Ranga Wimalawansa were the last medallist for Sri Lanka in track and field at these Games.
New Zealand 96-17 Italy: All Blacks move to cusp of Rugby World Cup quarter-finals
Superb New Zealand scored an incredible 14 tries and hit 96 points against Italy in Pool A to move to the cusp of the World Cup quarter-finals.
Knowing a defeat would see them eliminated, the All Blacks raced into a pulsating 49-3 half-time lead. They ultimately ran out 96-17 victors with scrum-half Aaron Smith scoring a hat-trick after just 33 minutes.
The All Blacks will guarantee a spot in the knockouts with a win over Uruguay in their final pool match on Thursday. Italy must beat hosts France in their next match to reach a first World Cup quarter-final.
The All Blacks’ win sees them jump up to second in Pool A, level on points with Italy who they now have a superior head-to-head record over.
New Zealand cruise past Pakistan’s 345 with five wickets in hand
Kane Williamson’s return to action headlined New Zealand’s first official warmup match of the 2023 World Cup as they hit the right notes with the bat in a high-scoring game in Hyderabad. Mohammad Rizwan (103) and Babar Azam (80) provided a good platform and the middle order got amongst the runs to help Pakistan post 345. The total, however, proved insufficient as New Zealand, led by Rachin Ravindra’s 97 and three other half-century scores, including that of Williamson, pulled off the chase with 6.2 overs to spare
After Devon Conway was dismissed by Hasan Ali for a golden duck, Ravindra and Williamson got together and added 179 runs in just 22 overs to power New Zealand’s chase. Williamson decided to retire after crossing fifty while Ravindra was dismissed by Agha Salman before he could get a ton. Usama Mir then picked up the wickets of Tom Latham and Glenn Phillips in quick succession but fifties from Mark Chapman and Daryl Mitchell, and an important 33 from James Neesham, helped New Zealand over the line in the 44th over.
Earlier, After opting to bat, Pakistan lost Imam-ul-Haq in the second over to Matt Henry while Mitch Santner had Abdullah Shafique out stumped. Babar, who started watchfully, found his groove while Rizwan also scored at a steady rate as they raised a century partnership to set things up nicely for Pakistan. Babar, however, missed a hundred while Rizwan retired after reaching three figures, giving Pakistan’s lower middle order some time out in the middle. Saud Shakeel (75) and Agha Salman (33*) came up with handy contributions to propel Pakistan past 340.
Pakistan 345/5 in 50 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 103, Babar Azam 80; Mitch Santner 2-39) lost to New Zealand 346/5 in 43.4 overs (Rachin Ravindra 97, Mark Chapman 65; Usama Mir 2-68) by 5 wickets
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