Commonwealth Games: No final spot for Nimali and Gayanthika


Sri Lankan middle distance runners, NImali Liyanarachi and Gayanthika Abeyrathne took part in the Women’s 800m heats today (12th) at the Carrara Stadium Gold Coast.

The duo, who have breathed new life into the Women’s 800m event with the national record changing hands between them, failed to qualify for the finals with Gayanthika placed 8th in the 1st heat of the event while Nimali was placed 7th in Heat 02.

Competing in Heat 01 of the Women’s 800m which was the fastest heat amongst the 3, Gayanthika Abyerathne could not keep up with the race leading pack which included the favorite to clinch the title, South African Caster Semanya. Gayanthika trailed behind the lead pack the entire race and finished in the 8th place with a time of 2:04.72 and could not better her personal best time of 2:02.55 which is also the national record of the event.   Caster Semanya was the fastest athlete to qualify for the finals despite cruising in the final few meters of the events and was the only runner to run sub 2minute clocking 1:59.26. Alexandra Bell of England was the other athlete who earned qualification coming in second in the heat.

Nimali Liyanarachi who competed in the 3rd heat of the 800m was far from her best as she only managed to finish in the 7th place with a time of 2:08.52. Like Gayanthika in the first heat Nimali did could not keep up with the race leading pack and was left behind despite trying to accelerate after the 400m mark in the competition. Kenyan Emily Cherotich Tuei won the heat with a time of 2:00.58 while Winnie Nanyondo of Uganda clinched the other qualification spot finishing second.

It was a disappointing performance from the two leading Sri Lankan female athletes in the 800m, especially considering that both of them have far better personal best timings. Gayanthika holds the national record at 02:02.55 while Nimali is only fractions behind with a time of 02:02.58. Both athletes however have had struggles with injury concerns and had their training schedules hampered with the lack of a proper training facility back at home but will be eager to prepare well for the upcoming Asian Games in August with the newly laid Sugathadasa stadium now available for the athletes.

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