Nimali Liyanarachchi will go down in the history as the first Sri Lankan female athlete to represent the country in the Women’s 800m at the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) World Championship showpiece.
A middle distance runner who later turned into 800m runner, Nimali has effectively grabbed the whole nation’s attention with her performance in the event. She won the islands solitary medal at the 2015 Asian athletic championship and also represented the country in the 2013 Asian Championship and the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Last year at the South Asian Games, the ambitious runner hailing from Sooriyawewa won gold in the 800m and laid claim as the best in South Asia. Liyanarachchi extended her good run when she managed to win a silver medal at the Asian Indoor Championship held in Qatar which was her debut indoor competition.
Having excelled internationally Liyanarachchi grabbed the attention of the entire nation when she managed to break the 16 year old national record in the women’s 800m at the National Sports Festival athletic meet held at the Durraiyappa Stadium in Jaffna. Nimali clocked a time of 02:03.5 secs despite running on a grass track and gave early indication of what is to come in store from this determined athlete. Liyanarachchi however lost the national record to Gayanthika Abeyrathne against whom she has developed a healthy rivalry in the event. Despite coming second best she managed to clock an impressive time of 02:02.58secs which is her personal best performance to date.
In the run up to the Asian Athletic Championship Nimali was hampered with an injury that prevented her from achieving her best at the three legged Asian grand prix. The gutsy runner did not give into the difficulty that she was plagued with during the Asian grand prix but focused on the Asian Athletic Championship at which she was the solitary medalist in the last edition.
In the Women’s 800m final Nimali had to battle not only with her injury but unfair and unethical behavior of the race leading Indian athlete Archana who was found guilty of obstructing both Nimali and Gayanthika who finished second and third respectively but was later elevated to gold and silver with the Indian athlete being disqualified due to her illegal conduct. Nimali qualified for the to the World show piece as the continental winner and will be eyeing to deliver a surprise performance in London to hoist the lion flag at world stage.
Sharing her thoughts after returning from Asian Athletic Championship Liyanarachichi mentioned that she was overjoyed and proud with the opportunity to compete against the best in the world at the World championship and hoped to do her best and go past her personal best timing
ThePapare.com wishes to congratulate Nimali Liyanarachchi for becoming the first Sri Lankan athlete to appear in the women’s 800m at the IAAF World Championship and wish her all the very best in her bid to make the motherland proud.