Sri Lanka Athletics (SLA) has forwarded names of 8 athletes for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games and 21 for the Asian Games for approval to the National Selection Committee, following the conclusion of the 100th National Athletics Championship recently, which was the final trials for the two Games.
SLA had announced earlier they are mainly targeting the Asian Games, and therefore not selecting any relay team for the Commonwealth Games. However, they have selected three relay teams for the Asian Games, and all of them are within medal range.
The Commonwealth Games team includes two Olympians in Javelin Thrower Sumedha Ranasinghe and 100m sprinter Yupun Abeykoon. US-based High Jumper Ushan Thiwanka also made the list as all three achieved the given qualification standard. 400m runner Kalinga Kumarage, who ran 45.88 seconds has also been named as he ran close to the given qualification time of 45.70 seconds. They will comprise the men’s team.
Long-Jumper Sarangi Silva, middle distance runner Gayanthika Abeyrathne and 3000m runner Nilani Rathnayaka, together with US based marathoner Hiruni Wijayarathne, will represent the women’s team.
The Commonwealth Games will be held from 28 July to 8 August in Birmingham, England.
Meanwhile, SLA’s primary target – the Asian Games – has several medal contenders. SLA has included a 4x400m mix relay team for the first time, while a 4x100m women’s relay team has been selected after a decade. The 4x400m men’s relay team also made the cut as both Kalinga Kumarage and Aruna Darshana ran below 46 seconds in the 400m.
The Women’s relay team includes four sprinters who have run below 12 seconds in the 100m. Two of the runners, Amasha de Silva and Rumeshika Rathnayaka, have earlier run below 11.60 seconds.
Even though Sri Lanka lost their prime 400m runner Dilshi Kumarasinghe for the relay team due to injury, her training partner, young Tharushi Karunarathne, filled the void by running below 54 seconds in the 400m, which prompted SLA to select Tharushi and Nadeesha Ramanayaka for the mix 4x400m relay, since both have run below 54 seconds.
Apart from the athletes mentioned above, triple-jumper Chamal Kumarasiri, 110m hurdler Roshan Ranathunga and US based Long-Jumper Danushka Sandaruwan make up the list for the Asian Games.
Out of all the selected athletes, Long-Jumper Sarangi Silva – who shattered the Sri Lanka record with a leap of 6.65m this year – stands out as the prime medal hope, as her performance is better than that of the Gold medalists in the last three editions of the Asian Games. 35-year-old Gayanthika Abeyrathne ran with her new found energy to set two new Sri Lanka records in both the 800m and 1500m, and she too is within medal range when compared with past editions.
All three relay teams too are top contenders for medals. Sri Lanka finished 4th at the 2018 Asian Games 4x400m men’s relay. Both Aruna and Kalinga who ran at that championship, are more experienced and faster now.
Men: Sumedha Ranasinghe (Javelin Throw), Kalinga Kumara (400m), Yupun Abeykoon (100m), Ushan Thiwanka (High Jump)
Women – Nilani Rathnayaka (3000m steeplechase), Gayanthika Abeyrathne (800m, 1500m), Sarangi Silva (Long Jump), Hiruni Wijayarathne (Marathon)
Men: Sumedha Ranasinghe (Javelin Throw), Kalinga Kumara (400m, 4x400m, 4x400m Mix), Yupun Abeykoon (100m), Ushan Thiwanka (High Jump), Roshan Ranathunga (110m Hurdles), Chamal Kumarasiri (Triple Jump), Danushka Sandaruwan (Long Jump), Aruna Darshana (4x400m, 4x400m Mix), Isuru Lakshan (4x400m), Pabasara Niku (4x400m), V. Deshan (4x400m)
Women: Nilani Rathnayaka (3000m steeplechase), Gayanthika Abeyrathne (800m, 1500m), Sarangi Silva (Long Jump), Tharushi Karunarathne (4x400m Mix), Nadeesha Ramanayaka (4×400 Mix), Amasha de Silva (100m, 4x100m), Rumeshika Rathnayaka (4x100m), Shelinda Jansen (4x100m), Medhani Jayamanne (4x100m), Lakshika Sugandhi (4x100m)
(Pic by Nuwan Amarawansha)
By Anjana Kaluarachchi