The 96th National Athletic Championship commenced today (3rd) at the Sugathadasa Stadium with six finals completed on the first day of the meet.
Having returned to Sugathadasa Stadium after a lapse of 4 years, it only took a few minutes for the Championship to enter the history books with Nilani Ratnayake running a national record time in the Women’s 3000m steeple chase worked out as the first event of the Championship. Nilani was the holder of the previous record having clocked 9.55.59 at the Indonesian open. The steeple chaser improved her previous time by over 10 seconds today winning gold with a time of 9.46.47secs. The young steeple chaser from Kuliyapitiya Central College Parami Wasanthi Maristella was placed second in the event clocking 10.31.16 secs. W N Kumari of Sri Lanka Navy was place third clocking 11:07.68secs.
In the Men’s Discus throw Gayan Jayawardane of Sri Lanka Navy renewed his own national record in the event throwing the discus to a record length of 56.40m. Gayan improved his previous record of 53.20m by 3.20m to be crowned the National champion while renewing the national record. Z TM Zaruk of Sri Lanka Army was placed second with a throw of 45.21m while Airmen D B Rathnayake was placed third with a throw that was measured at 43.11m
Despite many finals being worked out, the 400m men’s semifinal stole the limelight of the day showcasing encouraging performances by the athletes which argues well for Sri Lanka’s chances for a medal finish at the Asian Games. In the first semi-final the new poster boy of the quarter mile Aruna Darshana took control of the race as he finished ahead of Tharusha Dananjaya clocking a time of 46.68secs. In the second semi-final another youngster who has progressed through the ranks, Pasindu Kodikara clocked his personal best of 46.65 and had clocked the best recorded time in the semi-finals. The final heatl was set alight with Kalinga Kumara and Dilip Ruwanboth placed in the same heat. Kalinga Kumara closed Dilip down in the home stretch with a fast-paced finish to clinch the top spot in the heat having clocked 46.66secs. The final of the event which is going to be a terrific one that shouldn’t be missed with the start list for the final featuring Pasindu Kodikara, Ajith Premakumara, Aruna Darshana, Kalinga Kumarage, Dilip Ruwan and Tharusha Dhananjaya all capable of running sub 46secs.
In the women’s long jump final Anjani Puluwansa leapt to victory with her best jump measured at 6.08. It was a personal best equaling performance by the long jumper who has managed to resurrect her career after a long lay off due to a career threatening back injury. Harshani Jayakantha of Police won silver while C M Thilakarathna of Air Force secured Bronze in the event.
Aruni Lakshika of Sri Lanka Airforce stunned the event favorite Ayesha Maduwanthi with a new personal best of 46.18m. Ayesha had to be satisfied with the Silver medal with a throw of 46.09m. S N Rathnasiri of Sri Lanka Army ended with the Bronze medal. The tussle between Aruni and Ayesha who happen to be training partners has bode well for the sport as they have been pushing each other to better their respective personal bests.
In the Men’s Shot Put Samith Jayawardane of Sri Lanka Army recorded a new meet record distance of 16.23m to clinch the Gold medal. ADJ Perera of Sri Lanka Navy won the Silver medal with a throw of 15.67m while W S M Fernando won Bronze with a throw of 15.04m.
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