Sri Lanka will be fielding 04 athletes for the International Association for Athletic Federations (IAAF) World Championship that will be held from the 4th to 13th August in London, England.
The International Association for Athletic Federations (IAAF) World Championship is a bi annual competition organized by the governing body of world Athletics. Referred to as the world championship in athletics, this event is looked forward to by the top athletes of the world to earn the title as the World champions.
Marathoners Anuradha Indrajith Cooray and Hiruni Wijayrathne who are both based abroad in England and USA respectively have qualified for the competition. Veteran Cooray will be participating in his third world championship and also has vast experience having represented the country at the Olympic Games twice.
Hiruni Wijeyrathne will be representing the country for the first time in a major international event. Wijerathne who moved to USA after not receiving any opportunity in Sri Lanka managed to win the American Eugene marathon this year with a time of 2:45.00 to qualify for the World Championship. Hiruni’s time is the second fastest time for a female marathoner from Sri Lanka and only second to Niluka Rajasekara who has holds the national record time of 2:40.00.
Nimali Liaynarachi (Women’s 800m) and Waruna Lakshan (Men’s Javelin throw ) will be making their debut at the games and with it marks the first instance that Sri Lanka will be represented in their respective events.
Nimali Liyanarachi has injected new life to women’s 800m locally. She managed to renew a two decade old national record during last year’s national sports festival despite running on a grass track and paved way for an incredible rivalry against the fellow athlete Gayanthika Abeyrathne who managed to clinch the national record from Nimali during the national trials. Nimali won the Gold Medal at the concluded Asian athletic championship and qualified for the World Championship as the continental winner.
Waruna Lakshan, The national Champion in the Men’s Javelin event become the first Sri Lankan to qualify for the championship and was only given the green light in the eleventh hour. Lakshan was placed 35th in the world rankings and was in doubt of qualification as only the top 32 javelin throwers are selected for the championships. However there were 5 German athletes in the top 32 and with IAAF policy to only allow 3 athletes from one nation to take part in the championship omitting two German athletes paved way for Lakshan’s qualification to the game.
The Sri Lankan contingent of 04 athletes this year is the largest representation from the Island since2003 edition held in Paris, France where Sri Lanka fielded 06 athletes that included Susanthika Jayasinghe , Damayanthi Darsha who competed in the Individual events and Sugath Thilakarathne and Rohan Pradeep Kumara who were part of the Men’s 4X 400m relay.
Island nation has won two medals at the World Championships and Susanthika Jayasinghe is the only Sri Lankan to have managed to hoist the lion flag at a World championship event. Jayasinghe won the Island’s first medal at the 6th IAAF world championship that was held at the Olympic stadium in Athena, Greece in 1997 clocking 22.39secs in the women’s 200m securing silver. Again a decade later in 2007 Jayasinghe delivered what would be her and Sri Lanka’s last podium finish at the world champ in Osaka, Japan wining Bronze in the women’s 200m clocking 22.63secs. This performance was a great comeback by the Lankan sprinter who also is the only female athlete to have tasted Olympic glory when she won Silver at Sydney Olympics in 2000.