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Yupun set to compete against star-studded lineup in June



Yupun Abeykoon

By Reemus Fernando

Italy-based sprinter Yupun Abeykoon is 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 Golden Gala Pietro Mennea in Florence on June 2.

Yupun had a remarkable season in 2022 where he was Asia’s fastest performer in the 100 metres with a Sri Lanka record time of 9.96 seconds and bagged a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games. He became the first man from the South Asian region to produce a sub 10 seconds, once considered an impossible feat for a sprinter from the region in the 100 metrres..

“When your entire focus is on your goal, you will reach levels of achievement that you never thought it would be possible,” wrote Abeykoon in a social media post after his name appeared alongside the names of some of the fastest men in history of the discipline.

The event in Florence will be one of the eagerly anticipated clashes of the season in the Wanda Diamond League circuit where Kerley, Jacobs and Diamond League champion and world bronze medallist Trayvon Bromell are set to clash for supremacy. They are also scheduled to meet at the Meeting International Mohammed VI in Rabat on May 28 as well.

The star-studded 100 metres lineup also includes Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake who is history’s third fastest performer, though he has not touched the blistering 9.69 feat he performed in 2012 as of late.

All eyes will be on the likes of Bromell, Kerley and Jacobs but the Sri Lankan will be eying a great start to prove that his record-breaking 9.96 performance last year was not a fluke. He commenced the season early this month with a 20.60 seconds finish in the 200 metres at the Stadio Luigi Ridolfi, Firenze.

Yupun is the first Sri Lankan sprinter since the retirement of Olympic medallist Susanthika Jayasinghe to feature in such a star-studded lineup at a World Athletics event.

Sri Lanka’s highest-ranked track and field athlete is the prime medal prospect at this year’s Asian Games as the country’s athletics governing body looks forward to ending more than a decade-long medal drought at the regional event.

With Sri Lanka looking forward to sending teams for a number of international competitions the athletics fraternity will be eagerly waiting for Yupun to produce some exciting performances during the next few months.

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Sri Lanka confident World Cup qualifiers will go well



Angelo Mathews bats during training at Suriyawewa ahead of the third ODI against Afghanistan.

Rex Clementine
at Suriyawewa

Having failed to qualify automatically for the World Cup later this year, Sri Lanka will be flying shortly to Zimbabwe to secure one of the two remaining slots for the sport’s showpiece event. But before that they have got to finish off the ODI series against Afghanistan and the former champions will be hoping that they will be able to clinch the series prior to flying off to Harare.

After losing the first ODI by six wickets, Sri Lanka bounced back to square the series with a 132-run win on Sunday. That was a match where they basically produced the perfect game and ticked all the boxes.

The top order gave a solid start before the middle order capitalized on it and the lower middle order finished things off in style scoring 109 runs from the last ten overs. Sri Lanka piled up 323 for six and Afghanistan were never in the hunt as they were shot out for 191.

“The last game was a perfect exhibition of our plans. Everything was executed well. Since we had wickets in hand we could take risks. We could double the score and that was the plan. That’s what we want to do,” Sri Lanka’s Batting Coach Naveed Nawaz told journalists.

Prior to this series, we had a free period and we worked a lot on players’ fitness at the High-Performance Center. During this series we brought in a dietician and planned our food patterns. There is also a psychologist around. This is all done in a bid to establish whatever we have lost in the last few years,” Nawaz added.

While Sri Lanka are fretting over World Cup qualifications, there’s no such trouble for Afghanistan. Their captain Hashmatullah Shahidi told journalists that they will be one of the dark horses during the World Cup.

“Our ratings are improving day by day and match by match. We believe that we can do something special in this World Cup. We will be one of the best teams in the World Cup. We are the dark horses. The Asian conditions will suit our spin bowlers and we are excited,” Hashmatullah Shahidi said.

For today’s series decider leg-spinner Rashid Khan is expected to make a comeback having missed the first two ODIs due to a back injury.

“He is obviously our star performer. We didn’t want to take any risks with him as we have the Asia Cup and the World Cup. We will assess his situation during training and make a call whether he is ready to feature in the final game. It will mean a lot to us to come here to Sri Lanka and beat them in their own backyard,” the Afghan captain said.

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Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh reject PCB’s hybrid model?



Asia Cup:

Have Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh formally rejected the hybrid model proposed by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for the Asia Cup? That seems to be the latest on the imbroglio that has led to prolonged uncertainty over staging of the six-national continental championship. Sri Lanka is set to be the host.

According to the news coming in from Pakistan, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) have written to the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) formally rejecting the host PCB’s formula of conducting four games in Pakistan and rest of the matches in the UAE, thereby upholding the position of the BCCI which has been opposed to the model.

The development was revealed by Rashid Latif. “India and 3 countries, except Pakistan, rejected Hybrid model for Asia cup, All agreed on one venue due to logistics and financial issues. Might be a Zoom meeting soon or a general meeting in Dubai in a few days to finalise the matter (Sic),” the former Pakistan captain said in a Twitter post. When contacted by Cricbuzz, Latif confirmed the news and also guaranteed the authenticity of this update.

“I have information from independent sources that four countries have rejected the model and it is now a formality that the Asia Cup will be moved out of Pakistan,” Latif, a highly respected former captain, told cricbuzz on Tuesday morning. Asked if Pakistan would participate in the tournament, he said it should. “I feel Pakistan should and will.”

However, there was no official clarity on the topic until late in the evening yesterday.

Previously cricbuzz had reported, quoting an SLC official, that Sri Lanka were prepared to host the championship if allotted by the ACC.

The six-team Asia Cup, tentatively scheduled to start in the second week of September, is seen as a significant precursor to the World Cup in October-November. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Nepal are to take part in the 17-game championship.


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Under 13 All Island Inter Schools Badminton from June 10



Under 13 All Island Inter Schools Badminton Tournament 2023 conducted by Sri Lanka Schools Badminton Association with the support of Sri Chandananda Buddhist College Kandy will be held from June 10 to 12 at Municipal Indoor Stadium Kandy.

The championship will see ten events for both girls and boys being conducted in five Divisions namely, A, B, C, D, and E.

According to Sri Lanka Schools Badminton Association, hundred school teams have confirmed their participation in the event.

Further details of the championship can be obtained from Malika Waduge (077-7494478), Secretary, Sri Lanka Schools Badminton Association.

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