Yupun off to a blistering start before injury scare
by Reemus Fernando
Sprinter Yupun Abeykoon produced a remarkable season-opening time before leaving fans wondering as to what slowed him down dramatically in the last few metres to be placed second in the 100 metres final of the Savona International Meet in Italy on Wednesday.
The Italy-based sprinter clocked 10.04 (+2.7 wind) in the heats before returning a wind-aided 10.01 seconds (+2.7) in the final. He was placed second behind Reece Prescod of Britain who clocked 9.94 seconds.
Soon after the final, the fans who watched his impressive performance online were left to wonder whether it was an injury that slowed him down in the last few metres of the race.
In a social media post yesterday Abeykoon said that he had been advised by his physiotherapist to go for a MRI scan 72 hours after the event to assess his situation. The athlete’s Sri Lankan manager was not available for comments.
The wind-aided performance was the fastest start the Sri Lankan record holder had in a season-opening meet. Incidentally, Yupun is the only Sri Lankan athlete to have run that fast with or without the support of the wind. Abeykoon became the first South Asian to clock sub 10 seconds in the track and field’s most glamorous discipline when he returned a time of 9.96 seconds in a meet held in July last year.
Since then Sri Lanka Athletics has been looking forward for him to end Sri Lanka’s medal drought at international competitions. The former Joseph Vaz College athlete ended the country’s long wait for a medal when he clinched a bronze medal at the last Commonwealth Games.
Currently, Abeykoon is the highest-ranked Sri Lankan male athlete. He is also the only athlete to be within the required range of the World Rankings to be eligible for this year’s World Championships to be held in Budapest. Currently, Abeykoon is in the creditable 19th position in the ‘Road to Budapest 2023’ rankings which lists eligible athletes for the respective events of the World Championships.
He was set to compete against a star-studded lineup that includes world champion Fred Kerley, Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs and Kenyan world leader in the 100 metres this season, Ferdinand Omanyala at the upcoming Golden Gala Pietro Mennea in Florence on June 2. His availability for the event will be known only after the MRI scan which will be performed later this week.
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Fast bowler Dushmanta Chameera returns to the side after a seven month layoff having undergone ankle surgery as the selectors picked a balanced squad for the three-match series against Afghanistan starting later this week at Suriyawewa.
Although Chameera has been named in the squad, there was no place for top order batsman Kusal Janith Perera, who had returned to 20 side in New Zealand two months ago. KJP on that occasion had only been picked for T-20s and there are question marks about his fitness for the 50 over format.
Fans will be hoping that by the time the World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe begin next month, KJP will be cleared to feature in the 50 over format as well. One of the most destructive batters in the side, KJP has been in and out of the team due to injuries.
Opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne also makes a comeback to the ODI outfit having been axed from the 50 over format two years ago. Sri Lanka’s problems of not being able to bat out 50 overs in recent times is seen as the reason for Dimuth’s return to the side.
Uncapped leg-spinner Dushan Hemantha has also been named in the squad but now that Wanindu Hasaranga has recovered from an injury, he’s expected to play ahead of the 29-year-old.
There’s no place for left-arm quick Dilshan Madushanka either although there was lot of excitement when he first made an impact during last year’s Asia Cup. Young all-rounder Dunith Wellalage has also been overlooked for the three-match series.
The selectors are not expected to do too many changes from the 16-member squad chosen for the Afghanistan series for the World Cup qualifiers.
The first ODI gets underway Friday (2nd June) followed by games on June 4th and 7th. The series was drafted in to give the Sri Lankan team some competitive games ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.
Sri Lanka Squad:
Dasun Shanaka (Captain), Kusal Mendis (Vice-Captain), Pathum Nissanka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya De Silva, Charith Asalanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana, Dushan Hemantha, Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Matheesha Pathirana, Lahiru Kumara, Kasun Rajitha
Hashmatullah Shahidi (Captain), Rahmat Shah (Vice-Captain), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhail (wk), Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujib ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Abdul Rahman, Fazal Haq Farooqi, Farid Ahmad Malik.
Yupun out of competitions for few weeks due to injury
by Reemus Fernando
Sprinter Yupun Abeykoon who suffered an injury during last week’s 100 metres final of the Savona International Meet will ‘stay away from competitions for few weeks.’
“After the MRI test which I took after my race in Savona, it is unfortunate that I have to inform you all that due to a minor hamstring injury I have to stay away from competitions for a few weeks due to medical advice given by experts,” said the Italy based sprinter in a statement yesterday.
Abeykoon was placed second behind Reece Prescod of Britain in the final of the Savona International Meet last week. The national record holder returned a wind-assisted 10.01 seconds (+2.7) performance to open his season in the 100metres. However, despite placing second in the final, he was seen struggling during the last few metres of the race. The injury means he must skip one of the major 100 metres events this week.
The first South Asian Sprinter to break the ten seconds barrier in the men’s 100 metres, Abeykoon was expected to compete against a star-studded lineup at the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea in Florence later this week.
The world-class lineup includes world champion Fred Kerley and Kenyan world leader in the 100 metres this season, Ferdinand Omanyala.
“I have already started my rehab process with my physio, doctors and the rest of the staff and I am looking forward to coming back stronger than I was in the upcoming competitions,” he further stated.
The highest-ranked Sri Lankan male athlete, Abeykoon is the prime medal hopeful at this year’s Asian Games. Sri Lanka Athletics is relying heavily on Abeykoon to end the country’s medal drought in track and field at the quadrennial event.
He is also the only male athlete to be in the required range in the world rankings to be eligible for selection for this year’s World Championships.
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