Connect with us

Sports

Weerakkody speaks on Amasha’s prospects and sharing coaching knowledge

Published

on

Amasha de Silva reached her personal best when she clocked 11.55 seconds to win the women’s 100 metres at the National Athletics Championships. (Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi)

 

by Reemus Fernando

Sprint coach Sanjeewa Weerakkody who trained Amasha de Silva to clock 11.55 seconds in the women’s 100 metrres at the last week’s National Athletics Championship believes that a culture of sharing knowledge among local coaches should be promoted to bring the best out of track and field athletes.

While stressing on the importance of insisting on local knowledge, Weerakkody reckoned that obtaining foreign expertise to fine tune coaching knowledge through workshops here would be more beneficial than sending athletes and coaches for foreign training.

In an interview with The Island on the sidelines of the 98th National Athletics Championship, Weerakkody said that the 98th National Athletics Championship has proven that it was finer points of coaching applied with the local knowledge that were behind the success of athletes.

“The knowledge that I obtained at the coaching workshop conducted by the Sri Lanka Schools Athletics Association in January 2020 went a long way in getting my athletes to where they are now,” said Weerakkody who has been in the field of coaching since 2002.

Couple of sprinters coached by Weerakkody reached their personal best performances during the National Championships. Amasha clocked 11.55 seconds to reach her personal best in women’s 100 metres. Chamod Yodasinghe who clocked 10.58 seconds to be placed fourth in the men’s 100 metres also reached his personal best, while emerging multidiscipline athlete Lakshini Dissanayake was the winner of the heptathlon,.

Weerakkody was among dozens of local coaches who attended the coaching workshop conducted by former World Athletics coaching expert Gunter Lange in Galle in 2020 and he is also one of the few local coaches who had witnessed drop of performances of their athletes following foreign training.

“When Amasha returned from Australia after a training stint, there was a drop in her performance. She had clocked a personal best of 11.71 seconds in Gifu Japan in 2018 but there was a drop of form during the following year. It took time to bring her back to reach her personal best again. The knowledge I gathered at the workshop conducted by the Sri Lanka Schools Athletics Association and the online lectures I attended thereafter helped me guide her. I would recon such workshops rather than sending athletes for foreign training,” said Weerakkody.

“One can gain knowledge by going overseas for coaching courses. But if experts can be brought here for coaches to attend training or to be guided by them that will be more economical and productive,” opined the coach.

“I would also recommend emerging coaches to go for research based education and invite coaches to share knowledge to improve standards. We should promote a culture where coaches share their knowledge rather than keeping it to themselves,” said Weerakkody who is optimistic of further improving the standards of his trainees.

Weerakkody has identified areas including nutrition that has to be looked into for Amasha to achieve high performance.

Speaking on Amasha he had this to say: “She was not a top national athlete during her junior years. Now only she is ready for high performance training. She has the potential to be among the top Asian athletes of her discipline and even to brush shoulders against world’s top athletes one day.”



Sports

Super Rugby 2021 Aotearoa

Published

on

by Rajitha Ratwatte

We are still in summer in the Southern Hemisphere and international cricket is still being played here in Aotearoa – New Zealand. However, the rugby season has started, and we are into our second week. I guess the media Moghuls have to keep getting richer and certainly we are seeing lots of great running rugby due to the drier conditions.

There are a few new rules being trialled in this largely domestic tournament. Among them the captain’s challenge, a rule that allows 10 seconds to implement and has resulted in the appointment of co-captains, one from the forwards and one from the backs. More on that later.

We saw a game between the Waikato Chiefs and Otago Highlanders played on Friday evening. Chiefs of course being captained by the All-Blacks captain himself, Sam Cane with co-captain, Brad Webber the busy half back or scrum-half as we used to call them. Webber got a run with the All Blacks in preference to the incumbent understudy T.J. Peranara, last year and gave a good account of himself. The Chiefs were also trying out a new no10 Bryn Gatland, pinched from the Highlanders. This probably means that Damian Mackenzie will start at full-back this season, something that he (Damian) may not be too happy about. Liam Squire who was recovering from hip surgery and resulting complications was also starting at no6, a welcome return for a great-hearted player.

The Highlanders were being led by veteran hooker Ash Dickson and the co-captain was Aaron Smith who incidentally didn’t start the game, with new boy Folau Fakatara being picked in the no 9 jersey. Fakatara is a highly talked-up player with a rather fancy hairstyle (reminds me of the tail of a bird of paradise!) who played well but failed to show exceptional skills. The Highlanders were playing in white jerseys and khaki shorts which may be a suggestion for our Police or Army teams back in the Pearl. They looked rather smart. The Highlanders also had Jonah Nareki who had shown so much skill last season at no11, the old number of no doubt, the person whose first name he had been given.

The Waikato Chiefs were tipped by almost everyone to win as they were at home albeit without the loud cowbells of the home team due to Covid 19 restrictions. One factor that should have tipped off any punter was that Sir John Kirwan, the well-known ex All-Black winger tipped the Chiefs to win. JK is also known to get these things horribly wrong and will find it hard to live down his prediction of an Argentine loss to the All Blacks before that historic win by the Pumas!

Things started off on cue with Sam Cane earning a penalty off a ruck within 22 seconds of the start and Damian Mackenzie slotting it with ease. The first 30 minutes or so belonged entirely to the Chiefs and they raced to a 20 – 6 lead. The Highlanders were penalized continually and had two yellow cards dished out, including one to their skipper Ash Dickson. The Chiefs made maximum use of having an extra man on the field and scored twice in quick succession during this period. The only weak link in the Chiefs seemed to be their no10 Gatlin, who consistently made mistakes and made one too many when an attempted chip kick, in the opposition 22, was smothered by the opposition, ended up in the hands of Jonah Nareki who ran the length of the field and scored a try against the run of play. This could be called the turning point of the game and even though the Chiefs still had a healthy lead 20 – 11 at half time, this resurgence of spirit combined no doubt with an expletive-laced “talking to” from their coach (his own admission) at half time saw an amazing turnaround.

The Highlanders didn’t take kickable penalties in the second half and chose to kick for touch and go for the attacking line outs. Shannon Frazelle the All-Blacks blindside flanker who had been steady in the first half was showing more fire and commitment. Five minutes into the second half the hard-tackling Chiefs center and All Black, Lennert- Brown injured his arm and had to go off. “Bird of Paradise” no 9 Fakatava wormed his way through traffic and scored a try for the Highlanders in the 49th minute and was promptly substituted by the one and only Aaron Smith! What a player to be able to bring on at this stage of the game to add weight to a great fightback. The score read 20 -18 with the Chiefs still in the lead.

From this point, it was the Jonah Nareki show! First a scything run, at the end of which he found the inspired Shannon Frazelle, who strolled over the line. They say Nareki has low hips and is hard to tackle, be that as it may, the loss due to injury of hard tackling Lennert- Brown may have also contributed as Nareki kept coming in off his wing and running through the midfield. Nareki completed a hat trick of tries and took the Highlanders to victory with the final score reading 23 – 39.

However, there was one more drama in store. The captain’s challenge or captain’s referral is a new rule that allows the captain to challenge a decision by the referee once during the game. The captain has only 10 seconds to do it in. Hence the need for co-captains in case one of the captains is detained elsewhere in the field. The Chiefs scored a try almost at full time, but the run of play had led to one of the Chiefs players going into a tackle “leading with his arm” a possible red card offense that was missed by the referee. Aaron Smith was quick to point this out to the ref and the resulting video check showed this challenge was valid. The try was disallowed, and a simple penalty awarded to the Highlanders. This was the first time this trial “rule” was invoked. It needs a few more instances to prove its worth.

The overall refereeing was good with the officials even spotting crooked throws into lineouts, which was refreshing. Usually, the referee stands to one side of the line out and misses these offenses. The commentators tried to insinuate that a large number of penalties and yellow cards awarded against the Highlanders were excessive but when the highlanders got their act together in the second half, things returned to normal. In fact, it may have been these penalties that resulted in a better second half of rugby. Jonah Nareki is a name to remember for the future! Even though the national team has a wealth of wingers, this young man can even play center and is certainly a better choice than Ricco Ioane of the Auckland Blues, who seems to be being groomed for the job and is nothing but a no 11 or 14.

Continue Reading

Sports

Methvan wins U14 singles title

Published

on

SSC Open Ranking Tennis

Number two ranked Methvan Wijemanne overcame a set defeat to beat Tharuk Marasinghe in a all-Royal final to win the Under-14 boys singles title of the SSC Open Ranking Tennis tournament in Colombo on Sunday.

Wijemanne scored 2-6, 6-2, 10-4 in the final to beat the third seed. While Wieemanne beat number five seed Sandas Usgodaraachchi in the semis, Marasinghe eliminated top ranked player Lisal Goonetilleke in a Royal-Thomian clash.

In the men’s doubles final Yasitha de Silva and Sankha Atukorale beat Thangaraja Dineshkanthan and Gayanga Weerasekara 6-3, 6-4.

Meanwhile, the semi finalists were found in the Under-18 boys’ and girls’ singles yesterday.

Anithra Dharmarathne, Ruvi Lewkebandara, Wishmi Serasinghe and Nelani Jayasuriya secured semi final places as they won their quarterfinals.

Hasal Ahangama, Matheesha Nettasinghe, Ransath Peiris and Anujaya Abeywickrama advanced to the semis in the boys category.

 

Results

 

Under-18 girls’ quarter-finals

Anithra Dharmarathne beat Senulya Wijayawardhane 6-4, 7-6 (5)

Ruvi Lewkebandara beat Nishka Vivekanandan 6-1, 6-0

Vishmi Serasinghe beat Oneli Perera 7-6(5), 6-1

Nelani Jayasuriya beat Sethmi Sumanaweera 7-6(4), 6-3

 

Under-18 boys’ quarter- finals 

Hasal Ahangama beat Wenuka Kithnula 6-3, 1-0 retired

Matheesha Netthasinghe beat Nisal Hemakumara 6-4, 2-6, 10-8

Ransath Peiris beat Heshika Perera 6-4, 7-5

Anujaya Abeywickrama beat Vichinthaya Nilaweera 7-6(4), 7-5 (RF)

 

 

Continue Reading

Sports

SLC to make cricket most popular sport among girls

Published

on

Cricket is by far the popular sport among boys’ schools. On the contrary, cricket doesn’t even feature among the top three popular sports among girls’ schools.  While netball remains the number one sport among girls at schools, they also give preference to basketball followed by swimming and athletics. Apsari Tillakaratne, the convener of women’s cricket, is on a mission. Her plan is to make cricket the most popular sport in school.  That’s one of her long term plans. 

Apsari also has short term plans. The foremost of them is to pick a decent team for the upcoming ICC Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh in December. 

She had her plans set in putting up a formidable outfit for the first ever Under-19 World Cup for girls, but those plans received a severe blow due to the outbreak of the pandemic.  Now she goes about her business meticulously, visiting schools and encouraging interested young players.

The support she has received from District and Provincial coaches and the talent search manager of SLC has been enormous. Sri Lanka Schools’ Cricket Association and the Ministry of Education have also provided full support for her efforts.  

With December in mind, there is not enough time to put through teams at schools. Instead, her plan has been to encourage individual players and direct them to coaches. District and Provincial Cricket Associations have been tremendous help as Apsari reaches out to outstations where there are many talents.

While doing all these activities, strict health guidelines have been followed as safety of players and coaches is paramount.   

Apsari does keep an eye on schools and those who are in-charge of the sport at schools for the enthusiasm they show and if there is keenness, she is happy to invest on those schools as a start. 

The interest for women’s cricket has grown by many folds in the last decade and these initiatives will surely help create more awareness. 

The interest for cricket among girls has gone through the roof in the last ten years. Regular ICC events in both 50 overs and 20 overs being conducted are one such reason and more importantly these games are televised nowadays. 

India has taken a huge lead in promoting women’s cricket given their recent good showing in global events and more girls are taking part in cricket.  Sri Lankan girls like Chamari Atapattu making it to the Big Bash League and other televised franchise based events is creating interest and you will see more and more schools taking to the sport. 

Cricket among girls at schools has been promoted through Big Matches but as we move forward Apsari sees the need to have regular competition for girls.  Parents who are keen to see their children taking part in sports tend  to channel their little ones  to cricket when they see regular competitions being held.

Continue Reading

Trending