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Ushan, Sarangi, Nilani open season with remarkable feats 



by Reemus Fernando   

Long jumper Sarangi Silva, steeplechase athlete Nilani Ratnayake and US based high jumper Ushan Thivanka opened their 2022 season producing remarkable performances that will boost country’s chances at forthcoming major international multi sports events.

Silva established a new national record in the women’s long jump as she twice lowered her own national mark on the final day of the first Selection Trial at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Saturday. The South Asian Games gold medallist cleared 6.65 metres to establish the new national record. The performance will augur well for the athlete who is aspiring to achieve success at this year’s Asian Games.

What was remarkable in Sarangi’s achievement was the consistency. All of her four legal jumps were measured over six metres and two of them were over the previous record mark.

Sarangi had 6.48 metres as her national record from last year. Her four legal jumps on Saturday were measured at 6.51m, 6.65m, 6.16m and 6.37m. Incidentally, the gold medal of the last Asian Games women’s long jump was (Bùi Th? Thu Th?o of Vietnam) decided by a performance of 6.55 metres.

Ratnayake, who missed the Tokyo Olympics after being a strong contender for a better part of the last year, returned a time of nine minutes and 47.47 seconds to complete the women’s 3,000 metres steeplechase event at the Selection Trial. Lack of competition made her compete against herself and she came almost close to breaking her national record (9:46.76 secs) established in 2018. The impressive feat now warrants a place in the elite pool as she has come within medal winning performances at Asian level. At world level so far only two athletes have run the distance below ten minutes this year.

The US based high jumper Ushan Thivanka meanwhile commenced his season with a 2.25 metres performance at an indoor meet there. Thivanka was among the highest ranked Sri Lankan athletes last year, though he could not make it to the Olympics after running short of quality competitions to improve his world rankings. Thivanka’s impressive 2.25 metres feat will rank among the top ten Indoor performances of the world this year. In the Asian region he will have a close competitor from neighboring India as Tejaswin Shankar has a 2.25 metres from last December.

Sri Lanka will have a number of international competitions this year including the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games. Country’s track and field athletes have not excelled at the Asian Games during recent times despite history’s highest number of Games medal coming from that sport. Sri Lanka Athletics will be looking forward to enter a strong team for the Asian Games. With the all three above mentioned athletes having shown promise early in the season things look bright for track and field as better performances could be expected later in the season.

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Wade suspended for two matches for third code of conduct breach




Matthew Wade has been suspended for two games for a third code of conduct breach (Cricinfo)

Tasmania wicket keeper Mathew Wade has been suspended after accumulating a third level one code of conduct breach in 18 months during Monday’s Marsh Cup clash with Victoria which triggered an automatic two-game ban.

Wade hit the pitch forcefully with his bat in frustration at facing a dot ball during his innings of 25 in the three wicket loss at the Junction Oval in Melbourne. That action was deemed a breach of Article 2.5 of the Cricket Australia Code for abuse of cricket equipment or clothing, ground equipment or fixtures and fittings during a match.

He was charged and found guilty after accepting the charge. It is the third level one breach Wade has copped in an 18-month stretch and although they are all relatively minor, three breaches during that time incurs an automatic ban of two games.

Wade will now miss Tasmania’s next two Marsh Cup games on Wednesday, September 27 against New South Wales in Melbourne, and against South Australia in Adelaide on October 8. But he is available to play Tasmania’s opening Sheffield Shield clash against South Australia in Adelaide starting on October 3.

Wade remains in the frame to be part of Australia’s T20I squad for a five-match series against India in India at the conclusion of the ODI World Cup.


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Nine year old Mazel Alegado has Olympic dream in sight




Mazel Alegado, aged nine, qualified for the women's park final at the 2023 Asian Games (pic BBC)

At nine years old, skateboarder Mazel Alegado has the world at her feet.

The youngest member of the Philippines team at the Asian Games – and thought to be the youngest competitor at the entire event – finished seventh in the women’s park final in Hangzhou, China.

Now the United States resident has her eyes set on reaching the Olympic Games. 

“I’m really proud that I got here. My dream is to be a pro skater. I would love to go to the Olympics,” she told Japan Today. “I was so excited you know, because I was able to skate Asian Games. It was so fun,” she added.

She was inspired to take up the sport after watching her brother. “We were at my cousin’s house and I saw my brother skateboarding and I was like, ‘Can I try? Can I try?’ I got on the board and just loved it,” she said.

Alegado’s best score in the final came in her first run, when she posted 52.85.

Japanese skateboarder Hinano Kusaki, 15, claimed gold while China bagged silver and bronze with, respectively, 20-year-old Li Yujuan and Mao Jiasi, 15, finishing on the podium.

Skateboarding has attracted some of sport’s youngest athletes. Britain’s Sky Brown turned 13 shortly before claiming bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics while silver medallist Kokona Hiraki was 12.


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Gymnastics Ireland ‘deeply sorry’ to Black girl ignored at medal ceremony




US seven-time Olympic medallist Simone Biles said the video 'broke my heart' (pic Aljazeera)

Ireland’s gymnastics federation has apologised for the allegedly racist treatment of a young Black gymnast who was skipped by an official handing out medals to a row of girls last year.

Footage posted on social media last week of an event in Dublin in 2022 showed the official appearing to snub the girl, the only Black gymnast in the lineup, who looked bewildered.

“We would like to unreservedly apologise to the gymnast and her family for the upset that has been caused by the incident,”  Gymnastics Ireland (GI) said in a statement posted on its website on Monday.

“What happened on the day should not have happened and for that we are deeply sorry,” said the statement.  “We would like to make it absolutely clear that [GI] condemns any form of racism whatsoever,” it added.

The video posted on Friday soon went viral and drew widespread condemnation of the girl’s treatment, including from star United States gymnast Simone Biles, who said she sent the girl a private video message of support.

“It broke my heart to see the video. There is no room for racism in any sport or at all,” Biles, a seven-time Olympic medalist, said Saturday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Biles’s US teammate Jordan Chiles described the incident as “beyond hurtful on so many levels”.

In an earlier statement, GI defended the official who it said had made an “honest error” but acknowledged it received a complaint from the parents of the girl alleging racist behaviour in March 2022.

GI said an independent mediation had led to a “resolution agreed by both parties in August 2023”, that the official had written an apology and that the girl had received her medal after the ceremony.

However, the Irish Independent on Sunday anonymously quoted the girl’s mother as saying GI had failed to publicly apologise and that she would take the issue to the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation in Switzerland.


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