A team of twelve athletes, comprising of 6 males and 6 females are set to represent Sri Lanka in track and field events at the 18th Asian Games to be held in Indonesia from the 18th August to the 3rd of September 2018.
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The Athletics Association of Sri Lanka (AASL) initially named a squad of 25 athletes. This was pruned downed to 14 athletes after the 96th national championship, where the athletes were expected to achieve a stipulated qualification mark laid down by the AASL. However high jumper Ushan Thiwanka’s entry has been rejected by the event organizers reportedly due to a technical error of entering his name. While quarter miler Upamalaika Rathnakumari who was to take part in the mixed relay has also been omitted by the organizers since the local authorities have not denoted the other athletes who would take part in the mixed relay to organizers. Ushan who boasts of a personal best of 2.24m was a medal prospect, and now Sri Lanka will surely miss out on a podium finish in the mixed relays where the Sri Lankan team could have challenged for a top spot.
The men’s 4X400m which will comprise of Aruna Darshana, Kalinga Kumarage, Ajith Premarathne, Pasindu Kodikara and Dilip Ruwan will carry medal hopes of the Sri Lankan track and field contingent at the Asian Games. Selected to the squad after a thrilling 400m final where six athletes ran sub 48secs. Aruna Darshana who was crowned the champion and Kalinga Kumara who was a close second will also compete in the individual 400m event. 800m national record holder Indunil Herath who was in Kenya for training for over 4 months will be looking to book a place in the medal table. Indunil who claimed the Sri Lankan 800m national record at the Kenyan prime minister’s championship earlier this year will look to cash in with the expertise and experience he acquired in Kenya. Long Jumper Prasad Wimalasiri, Sri Lanka’s only representation in field events is currently ranked 5th in Asia and will be able to push for a medal finish if he manages to surpass his personal best of 8.14m.
American based Sri Lankan marathon runner Hiruni Wijerathne opted out of the Marathon at the Asian Games due to difficult humid conditions expected during the Games. However, she will compete in the women’s 10000m at the Asian showpiece. The Nimali Liyanarachchi and Gayanthika Abeyrathne duo will be fierce competitors in the 800m event, but will face strong competition from the Indian and the Middle Eastern athletes. Steeplechaser Nilani Ratnayake has been in sublime form in the run up, managing to renew her own national record in the event. Similar to Gayanthika and Nimali, Nilani will have stiff competition from Bahraini and Indian athletes for a medal finish.
Athletics have been responsible for 27 out of the 46 medals Sri Lanka have won across the 18 editions of the Asian Games, the most by any sport, and will yet again carry the hopes of the nation to win silverware at the Asian showpiece. At the 2014 Asian Games Sri Lank only won two medals both coming from the Men’s & women’s Cricket teams. With Cricket not part of the Games Sri Lanka will bank heavily on the Athletics for their chances of making a mark in the medal table.
It’s been a 12-year drought for Sri Lankan athletics, having not had a podium finish in the 2010 & 2014 editions. The last triumph at the Asian Games in Athletics was in 2006 when Olympic medalist Susanthika Jayasinghe collected two medals winning Silver in the Women’s 100m and Bronze in the Women’s 200m. While the Men’s 4X400m comprising of Rohan Pradeep Kumara, Rohitha Pushpakumara, Prasanna Amarasekara and Ashoka Jayasundara won Bronze.
Sri Lankan team will comprise of Aruna Darshana (400m, 4X400), Kalinga Kumarage (400m, 4X400), Ajith Premakumara (4X400), Pasindu Kodikara (4X400), Dilip Ruwan (4X400), Prasad Wimalasiri (Long Jump), Indunil Herath (800m), Gayanthika Abeyrathne (800m), NImali Liyanarachchi (800m), Nilani Rathnayake(3000m Steeple chase), Hiruni Wijerathne (10000m).
The team will be accompanied by officials – Mr. Saman Kumara (Manager), Mrs. Badra Gunawadane (Coach), Mr. Sajith Jayalal (Coach) and Mr. Luis Miranda (Coach).
Sri Lanka’s #1 sports is dedicated to bringing you updates on the progress of the Sri Lankan track and field athletes. Visit the Asian Games hub on ThePapare.com – http://www.thepapare.com/asiangames to receive exclusive and in-depth content on Sri Lankan contingent to the Asian Games 2018.