The national athletic trials to select the squad for the Commonwealth Games (CWG) to be held in Gold Coast, Australia was worked out today (27th) at the Diyagama Mahinda Rajapakshe Stadium.
Men’s 100m, 200m, 400m, Long Jump, Triple Jump, High Jump & Javelin Throw and Women’s 800m, 1500m, 3000m Steeple Chase, Long Jump. Triple Jump & Javelin throw events were held today with top athletes of the country taking part in hopes of booking a trip to the Gold Coast Games.
While it is not the ideal time to hold a trial for an international event with many of the athletes still in the final stages of their pre-season preparation, AASL was left without a choice and was compelled to hold the trials as the deadline for handing the entries was fast approaching with the competition scheduled to be held in March. This not an ideal situation for the athletes as well as AASL since the athletic season in the country traditionally commencing mid-year in May.
Despite the bad timing and the worn-out track in Diyagama, there were a few noteworthy performances from the participating athletes which sparked up the day and showcased potential that lies with the local athletes.
Business as usual for Manjula
Sri Lanka’s national record holder in the Men’s high jump and the ageless wonder Manjula Kumara showcased why he is the undisputed king in the in the high jump event as he managed to clear a height of 2.24m at the trial. 33 year old Kumara missed out in qualifying for Rio Olympics in 2016 but has been an inspiration to the local athletes as his continuous passion for achieving greatness has seen him dominate the High Jump event in the country. 2.25m was the height that was cleared by the bronze medal winning Canadian athlete in the 2014 CWG and Manjua will be vying for a podium finish in what could be his final appearance in the CWG.
Nadeesha & Sampath throw past qualification
The Women’s National Javelin Champion, Nadeesha Lekamge came out with a throw of 58.14m to take top honours at the trial. Last year at the 22nd Asian Championship held in India Lekamge came out with then personal best performance of 58.11 to win a Silver medal.
Sampath Ranasinghe who has been largely overshadowed by his peers Olympian Sumedha Ranasinghe and National Champion Waruna Lakshan recorded the 3rd best distance recorded for the javelin throw in the country today. Ranasinghe pierced through the 80-meter mark for the first time today as he managed to record a distance of 81.22m at the trial. He enters an elite cub of three throwers who have surpassed the 80m mark which includes Sumedha Ranasinghe and Waruna Lakshan.
Best 100m time in Sri Lanka
Men’s 100m dash which always commands the attention of everyone gathered did not disappoint as the top athletes of the country provided a race to remember for all who had gathered. During the two heats for the event.
Himasha Eshan who holds the National record for his 10.26 in Guwahati, India during the South Asian Games was the winner of the first heat of the 100m clocking a time of 10.36secs. Vinoj Suranjaya sent a strong message to Himasha as he clocked 10.33 secs in the second heat to lay claim to the best times in the heats. With both the runners finishing the heats fractions of a second apart, a mesmerizing battle ensued in the final of the 100m. It was Vinoj Suranjaya who had the last laugh as he managed to run a personal best time of 10.29secs which bettered his own time of 10.30 secs which was the fastest time clocked in Sri Lanka for 100m.
With the AASL expected to receive a quota of around 13 entries for the CWG from the National Olympic Committee, the Athletic selectors are set to finalize the team that will represent Sri Lanka in Athletics early next week. The USA based Marathoner Hiruni Wijerathne has already achieved qualification through her national record breaking run at the recently concluded Houston Marathon and will most likely be joined by Manjula Kumara, Nadeesha Lekamge and Sampath Ranasinghe with the remaining spots to be confirmed by the AASL mid next week.