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Weerakkody speaks on Amasha’s prospects and sharing coaching knowledge



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.”


Eight Sri Lanka cricketers fail fitness tests



Avishka Fernando has failed a second fitness test inside ten days.

By Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka Cricket has issued an ultimatum to its contracted players after eight of them failed a fitness test in Colombo. A pool of 20 shortlisted players for the upcoming tour of West Indies underwent fitness tests in Colombo and eight of them did poorly failing the tests. The list includes several permanent members in the side and some senior players.

The players have now been given an ultimatum to get their act together before another fitness test on February 3rd. If they failed the second fitness test, they will be ineligible for selection for the tour of West Indies. Sri Lanka will play two Tests, three ODIs and three T-20s in the Caribbean.  

Fitness has been a growing concern within the team and Head Coach Mickey Arthur has demanded excellence in this aspect. Opening batsman Avishka Fernando was sent home from Galle lead up to the Test series against England after he failed the fitness test. It is believed that Fernando had failed a second fitness test as well conducted yesterday.

It has been argued that players remaining at home during COVID times had resulted in poor fitness levels. But question marks about fitness standards had been there for a while now.

Meanwhile the bio-bubble in Galle has been pruned to 17 players after Sri Lanka Cricket informed team management to send home five players. The bubble will be reduced by a further two on the day of the match making the squad to 15 players, like during pre-Covid days.

The reserves engaging in card games when the batting was collapsing on day one of the Test match had angered fans and former players. It is believed that the drastic measure to send players home was taken as a reaction to it. The players were not in the dressing room when cameras caught them playing cards but in a floor above the dressing room.

Accordingly, Dimuth Karunarante, Kusal Mendis, Nuwana Pradeep, Minod Bhanuka and Lahiru Kumara have been sent home. Karunaratne and Mendis were not involved in card games. The former has been released as he is injured while the latter has been sent to the High Performance Center at RPS to work on technical aspects of the game. Mendis picked up four ducks in a row.

Suranga Lakmal and Oshada Fernando, two players who engaged in card games, have recovered from their injuries and are expected to feature in the second Test match. While Lakmal is expected to share the new ball with Asitha Fernando, Oshada is expected to fill the vacant number three slot.

Niroshan Dickwella will continue to bat at number six but has been asked to provide more consistency.

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Yasitha, Anika looking to add doubles titles



Tennis Nationals 2020

Men’s and women’s singles champions Yasitha de Silva and Anika Seneviratne will look to secure the doubles titles as well as they booked final spots in the respective doubles tournaments of the Tennis Nationals 2020 at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Monday.

Just a day after winning his first men’s singles national title de Silva paired Sankha Atukorale to beat Nishendiran Sivendran and Michael Siyaguna 9-1, 6-3 in the men’s doubles semi-final. Now they will meet giant killers 16-year old Chathurya Nilaweera and 17-year-old Thehan Wijemanne in today’s final.

Nilaweera and Wijemanne ousted defending champions Sharmal Dissanayake and Rukmal Cooray in the quarter-finals before edging out Dhilvan Herath and Archana Lokuge in a closely contested semi-final. They bounced back from a 5-7 defeat in the first set to secure their final place they scored 6-2, 11-9.

Meanwhile Anika Seneviratne, who won her second women’s singles national title on Sunday, advanced to the women’s doubles final with her sister Alalna as they secured a 6-1, 6-3 win over Oneli Perera and Sethmi Sumanaweera. Seneviratne sisters are the defending champions.

They will meet Janali Manamperi and Savini Jayasuriya in the final. Manamperi and Jayasuriya beat Neyara Weerawansa and Tuvini de Alwis 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 in the semis. (RF)

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Dimuth ruled out of second Test  



Dimuth Karunaratne (R) has been ruled out of second Test against England.

Rex Clementine in Galle Fort

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne has been ruled out of second Test against England that will get underway later this week. The opening batsman missed the first Test as well.

Karunaratne was hit on the hand by Wiaan Mulder during the second Test match at Wanderers leaving him with a fractured left thumb. That didn’t deter him from going onto post a hundred.

However, the  recovery has been slow and Karunaratne who missed the opening Test match has been ruled out of the series as well. He’s expected to return to lead the side for the series against West Indies. Another player who was injured South Africa – Dhananjaya de Silva has  started  rehabilitation. De Silva who tore a thigh muscle is expected to return for West Indies series.

Meanwhile,  Sri Lanka Cricket has expressed dissatisfaction towards team management after several players were seen engaging in card games while wickets were falling in a hurry on the opening day of the Test match. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 135 after winning the toss. Although they bounced back and fought hard over the next three days, they were always catching up having conceded too much advantage to the opposition.

The four players involved in card games are Suranga Lakmal, fellow fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep, top order batsman Oshada Fernando and left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan.

The extended Sri Lanka squad during COVID times contains 22 players and these four players were not in the dressing room when cameras captured them but on a floor above the dressing room.

Five players who are not going to be part of the second Test match will return home today.

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