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Throwers Sumeda and Sampath become training partners

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by Reemus Fernando

There are two Ranasinghes among the three highest ranked Sri Lankan javelin throwers. While Olympian Sumeda Ranasinghe is the current number one, Sampath Ranasinghe and former national record holder Waruna Dayaratne are genuine contenders to that title. Fierce competitors on the field, these top three throwers were training under three different coaches during the last few years. But now reigning national champion Sumeda and former national champion Sampath are training partners with the latter joining the national record holder to be coached by Pradeep Nishantha.

The standard of the men’s javelin throw improved by leaps and bounds during the last ten years. Reasons for the improvement were many. Several former national throwers taking to coaching and persevering in acquiring the latest knowledge was one of the many reasons for the improvement. Pradeep Nishantha and Kingsley Gunathilaka, both former national record holders are starting to fill the space once filled by the likes of late A.J. Rodrigo. The healthy competition between these coaches is another reason for the improved standards.

This competition resulted in Nishantha’s charge Sumeda Ranasinghe creating history in 2015 with a mighty throw of 83.04 metres. It was a distance which was considered impossible for Sri Lankan throwers to achieve at one time. Performances like those helped Sumeda qualify for Olympics. In 2016 Ranasinghe became the first male thrower to represent Sri Lankan at an Olympics.

Though he has been under the shadow of the Olympian, Sampath too has shown signs of becoming a thrower capable of accomplishing such achievements. Sampath produced his personal best with a massive throw of 81.22 metres in 2018. Under Gunathilaka’s guidance he became the third Sri Lankan thrower in history to clear the 80 metres mark, behind Sumeda and Waruna. It is after accomplishing such an achievement that Sampath decides to change coaches.

“Sampath joined me this month after notifying his coach. I also had a chat with Gunathilaka before I started training him,” said Nishantha in an interview with The Island.

Gunathilaka who is attached to the Ministry of Sports is currently following a sports degree but continues to train throwers. Gunathilaka, a South Asian Games gold medalist, said that he gave his blessings to Sampath after the latter conveyed his intentions. “I have no hard feelings. I wish him well,” said Gunathilaka.

Meanwhile, Nishantha said that he also had a chat with his athlete Sumeda before the arrival of Sampath. “I had a chat with Sumeda as well. He has no worries about it. I personally believe that both Sumeda and Sampath will benefit from training together,” said Nishantha.

How has the three leading throwers improved during this Covid 19 hampered year will only be known when they take part in the low key trial this month. If the National Championship is held as scheduled in December, the competition between the two Ransainghe’s will be another sub plot to watch.

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Sri Lanka to play at Bull Ring and Centurion

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The Wanderers also known as the Bull Ring for its intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams will host the New Year Test.  Sri Lanka have played two Tests there and lost both – by innings margin.

by Rex Clementine

Cricket South Africa (CSA) seem to have learned from their embarrassment last year, when Sri Lanka became the first Asian nation to win a Test series in South Africa and have left no room for complacency when they host Dimuth Karunaratne’s side in December this year. Accordingly, CSA has chosen Wanderers in Johannesburg (also known as the Bull Ring for its intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams) and Centurion for the two Tests.

While officially CSA would say that logistically the two venues, half-hour drive from each other, were ideal to host the two Test series, they are also the quickest tracks in South Africa and Asian teams usually don’t  last three days in those venues.

Sri Lanka for example have played two Tests at Wanderers and have lost both games by innings margin with the two games ending inside three days. At Centurion, meanwhile, Sri Lanka have played four Tests and lost all four (two games by an innings).

The blunder that CSA committed last time Sri Lanka toured South Africa was to schedule the games in the slowest tracks in the country – Durban and Port Elizabeth. That backfired as Sri Lanka clinched the series 2-0. Test match cricket is such a tough game in South Africa, that apart from England and Australia no other team had won a series in that country and Sri Lanka’s achievement surprised many.

Several members of the current squad have unhappy memories of Wanderers and Centurion and they will not be pleased that the games had been slotted there.

The team will stay in one hotel during their month long stay in South Africa and will shuttle between the grounds which are in close proximity to each other. Centurion will host the Boxing Day Test while the Wanderers will host the New Year Test.

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Wickramasinghe comes up with guidelines to train during the pandemic

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Training programmes of a number of top track and field athletes were interrupted at various training venues due to Covid 19 concerns last week. Some of the interruptions were reported in areas where no new Covid 19 positive cases were reported. With the second wave of pandemic starting to disrupt daily life, sports training too is set to suffer badly. But senior track and field coach Upali Wickramasinghe believes that training can proceed without an interruption even during the pandemic by changing the coaching or training style.

Wickramasinghe in his instructions for coaching during the Covid 19 pandemic lists out important guidelines to follow during training, pre training and post training.

Being equipped with a clearance certificate issued by health authorities and submitting parental consent with regard to training juniors will help avoid disappointments at venue entrances according to Wickramasinghe. Sanitizing participants and checking their temperature are the other prerequisites before starting training.

Maintaining social distancing, limiting the training to small groups or individuals, avoiding physical contact (no high-fives, no handshakes) and prohibiting of spitting and clearing of nasal respiratory secretion are the instructions for sportsmen engaged in non contact sports.

Training can be continued even for minimal contact games by classifying training areas into three or four and sticking to training partners and avoiding body blocking.

Training for full body contact games can be done by focusing more on promoting individual skills and technique, utilizing alternative practice equipment, prohibiting sharing of personal equipment and making sanitization mandatory even during training.

Disinfection of training equipment like javelin, shot put, relay batons, shuttlecocks and balls is a major requirement immediately after training. Wickramasinghe also advices participants to exit venues immediately after their training schedules are completed. He also advices not to share personal equipment like rackets, helmets shin – guards, water bottles and T – Shirts.

A former national athlete, Upali Wickramasinghe has been in the field of coaching after his retirement as a Major in the Sri Lanka Army. He has produced a number of top national athletes and was the first coach of Olympian Anuradha Indrajith Cooray, who holds the Sri Lanka National record in the men’s marathon. (RF)

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Sri Lanka to take 20 players to South Africa

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Left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando outperformed South African quicks Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn during Sri Lanka’s tour to South Africa in 2019 as they won the series 2-0. Here he traps Francois Du Plessis leg before wicket.

by Rex Clementine

Cricket South Africa has  come up with one of  the simplest health guidelines in these testing times and it could turn out to be  the  blueprint other sporting bodies will follow in conducting international sporting events.  The Sri Lankan team will be in South Africa in December for the Boxing Day Test and New Year Test and they will not be required to go through lengthy quarantine periods.  All what the players need is a negative PCR report before boarding the flight to Johannesburg and another negative report upon landing in Oliver Tambo International Airport.

Two negative reports are good enough for players to resume training immediately within the team bubble. The method is quite a contrast to what other countries follow. Sri Lanka’s mandatory 14 day quarantine period resulted in the Test series against Bangladesh being postponed.

The Sri Lankan team will not be given any warm-up games although they are expected to be in South Africa for two weeks prior to the Boxing Day Test match.  With the team in a bubble, net bowlers also will not be provided and hence Sri Lanka will be carrying 20 players in the squad. This avoids the risk of last minute replacements being called up due to injuries as well.

CSA is yet to announce the venues for the tour. England who will be in South Africa prior to Sri Lanka will be secluded in Cape Town and nearby Paarl. England will play three ODIs and three T-20 Internationals in South Africa.

This series will mark Sri Lanka’s return to international cricket after the outbreak of the pandemic in March this year. This year was supposed to be full of international cricket for SLC with several bilateral series at home including tours by India and England that bring much needed television revenue. SLC was also set to host this year’s Asia Cup but all that now has been pushed back due to the pandemic. SLC officials are confident that they will be able to reschedule all postponed series within the next 18 months.

SLC is expected to host England in January next year for two Tests. The national cricket team will then undertake a tour of West Indies.

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