Tuskers face humiliating defeats

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Kandy fly half Tharinda Ratwatte became the only Sri Lankan player to score a try against New Zealand as they were handed a humiliating 63 points 5 defeat by Olympic silver medalist in their opening Commonwealth Games rugby sevens tournament kicked off on Friday at Coventry City football stadium in Birmingham.

 New Zealand led the first half 28-5. This is the first time Sri Lanka scored a try against mighty New Zealand since they last met in 1998 – and lost 80-nil.

They scored 35 more points in the second half. Sri Lanka is scheduled to face England and Samoa in their remaining group matches.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka women’s who were making their first appearance at the Commonwealth Games, were hammered 57-0 by England.

Two-time Olympic Gold medalist Fiji kicked off the campaign in style beating Zambia 45-0.

Covid

Meanwhile Birmingham 2022 Chief Executive Ian Reid has revealed that fewer than three per cent of the athletes and officials that have arrived in the English city for the Commonwealth Games have tested positive for COVID-19.

More than 4,500 athletes from 72 nations and territories from across the Commonwealth have landed in Birmingham for the Games.

Apart from Sri Lanka , Australia, England, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, India and Malaysia are among the nations that have been hit by positive COVID-19 cases in the build-up to Birmingham 2022.

Two Pakistan hockey players have been identified as testing positive upon arrival in Birmingham and have been placed in isolation.

India’s men’s hockey team have also been affected with two players and three support staff confirmed as delivering positive results.

Batter Sabbhineni Meghana and all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar are facing a race against time to be fit for India’s women’s Twenty20 cricket campaign after testing positive in their home country. Vastrakar remains in quarantine in India.

Paul Pollock of Northern Ireland has been forced to pull out of the men’s marathon race, scheduled for Saturday (30 July) after testing positive.

Two members of England’s team that arrived in Birmingham returned positive tests, with one subsequently cleared to compete following further testing.

Australia’s two-time world javelin champion Kelsey-Lee Barber has also tested positive during a training camp in Tonbridge in south-east England, but she is expected to compete.

Two Malaysian officials are also reportedly in COVID-19 enforced quarantine, while New Zealand revealed earlier this week that an athlete was isolating after testing positive.

Athletes have been required to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for the virus before travelling to Birmingham and another upon arrival in the English city.

Several recommendations have also been made by Birmingham 2022 including minimising physical contact, wearing masks in “indoor settings while in close proximity to athletes and on Games transport” and staying in their accommodation if they develop COVID-19 symptoms.

Malala’s moving speech

Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who moved to Birmingham after being shot in the head by the Taliban, claimed that the athletes competing at the Commonwealth Games here was a reminder that “every child deserves the chance to reach her full potential and pursue her wildest dreams.”

Malala, who was named the 2014 Peace Prize laureate aged 17, gave a moving speech during the Opening Ceremony at the Alexander Stadium where she underlined the opportunities Birmingham had given her and her family.

The Pakistani advocate for female education was flown to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where she underwent surgery to repair her skull after being shot in the head by a Taliban assassin while on a bus in October 2012.

Malala made Birmingham her home, attending Edgbaston High School where she secured a place at Oxford University to study philosophy, politics and economics.

The 25-year-old lives in Birmingham and has welcomed the staging of the Commonwealth Games that were opened this evening and are due to run until 8 August.

“When I first came to this city, I had never heard its name but I would come to understand it through the doctors and nurses at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital,” said Malala when addressing the crowd during the Opening Ceremony.

“Through the teachers who inspired me at school, helped my mother to learn English and taught my little brothers to drive. To the library of Birmingham, through the friends I have made, from my best friend Ellen, a life-long Brummy – to the families that have come here from Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Pakistan and beyond.

“Tonight, teams from 72 countries and territories join the people of Birmingham to celebrate friendship across borders.

“The young athletes who will compete over the next few weeks represent millions of girls and boys across the Commonwealth – our shared hope for the future.

“A future where every child can go to school, where women are free to participate in society, where families can live in peace and in dignity.

“Over the next two weeks when we watch the incredible athletes of the Commonwealth Games, remember that every child deserves the chance to reach her full potential and pursue her wildest dreams.

“And now, it is my honour to say welcome to Birmingham.”