The first senior national trial for the Asian Games, concluded today (28th) at the Sugathadasa stadium with a host of athletes achieving their personal bests on the second day of the competition.
The 400m and 100m sprint finals which were held in the afternoon gained a lot of interest as few big names were competing with hopes of achieving qualification for the upcoming Asian Games.
In the Men’s 400m Kalinga Kumarage outran race favorite Dilip Ruwan with a with a well-executed performance. Dilip looked to be in good form as he managed to win his Semifinal comfortably clocking 46.5secs while Kalinga won the other semi-final clocking 47.2secs. In the final Kalinga, who was running in lane 5 with Dilip on the inside in lane 4, managed to start the race brilliantly with a lot of pace and dominated the race up to the last 200m. Dilip, who was in the second spot, tried closing in on the gap approaching the home straight but Kalinga managed to keep up his pace and finish the race with a personal best time of 46.08secs, becoming the 4th fastest Sri Lankan at the 400m, behind the legendary Sugath Thilakarathne , Rohan Pradeep Kumara and Prasanna Amarasekara. Dilip Ruwan also recorded his personal best time clocking 46.39secs to finish second while GA Premakumara was placed third with a time of 47.16secs.
Upamalika Ratnakumari was not greatly challenged in the Women’s 400m managing to win the race comfortably clocking 53.3secs and bettering her personal best in the process. R Nadeesha of Sri Lanka Army who will be a part of the Sri Lankan contingent that will travel to the Thailand open finished second clocking 54.18secs. DGKS Jayasinghe was given a run for her money by the young school girl SCP Bandara but managed to hold on to third place.
The Men’s 100m final was minus yesterday’s record breaking sprinter Vinoj Suranjaya, who opted to skip the event. All eyes were on the national record holder in the 100m Himasha Eshan to spark some magic in the final; he did not have the greatest of starts to the race but managed to recover well to finish the race with a performance of 10.53secs. DK Wijerathne edged ahead of Sumesh Viranga to book the second place with a time of 10.57secs while Sumesh clocked 10.68 to finished third.
In the Women’s 100m final the heptathlon national record holder Lakshika Sugandi was the top seed in the absence of Rumeshika Ratnayake who did not participate in the trial. Sugandi did not have much competition as she managed to race her way to the finish line clocking a time of 11.98secs to win the race. S L Vidanaduruge was placed second clocking 12.25 while MASS Jayathilake clocked 12.32 to claim third place. Iron Lady Sugandi also managed to finish in the top spot in the heptathlon with an accumulated total of 4787 points to win the event comprehensively as the second placed PSN Fernando from Sri Lanka Army finished a whopping 777 points behind her with a total of 4010 points. HMD Herath finished third.
Ayesha Maduwanthi who has been the leading thrower in both the Women’s Discuss and Hammer throw event, managed a throw of 48.69m in the latter at the trials which is a new personal best for her. She was a mere 14cm short of the National record in the event held by Shanika Amarasinghe who had to be satisfied with the second place finish with a throw of 48.76m. A Lakshika finished third in the event with her best effort measured at 45.16m.
Olympian Sumedha Ranasinghe won the Men’s Javelin throw clearing a distance of 77meters and it was a welcome sight to see the him in good rhythm. Sumedha will be a part of the Sri Lankan team to the Thailand open and will look to breach the 80m mark once more. Sampath Ranasinghe who represented the country at the concluded Commonwealth Games was second best at the trial only managing to clear a best of 72.08 at the end of his attempts. PAP Lakmal was placed third clearing 71.27. Waruna Lakmal who recently returned to the Island after a training in Finland did not participate in the trials having received clearance due to an injury.
It was business as usual for Vidusha Lakshani in the Women’s triple jump final where she leapt to victory with a jump of 13.42m and will look to improve on her personal best of 13.64m at the upcoming second trial prior to the much-awaited Asian Games.
Nadeeka Dilhani Lekamge who was part of the Commonwealth Games squad and competed in the Women’s Javelin had a disappointing outing despite winning the trial. Her best throw was a mere 51.00m. With a personal best of 58.14 she will be hoping for a better show at the second trial in order earn qualification for the Asian Games.
Only 4 athletes competed in the Women’s 800m final with Nimali Liyanarachchi finishing the race in top spot with an unimpressive time of 2:10.46secs. Youngster Dilshi Kumarasinghe who was the best athlete in the Under 18 age category at the recently concluded Junior national competition was placed second clocking 2:10.66 close behind Nimali. Dilshi laid claim to the 800m meet record at the 800m Girl’s final at the junior nationals and could have pushed Nimali more but chose to tail the senior athlete instead. KAD Sadakanthi of Sri Lanka Airforce was placed third.
While the Juniors impressed at the Junior nationals, the Seniors did not disappoint at the two-day competition with one national record in a sprint event and a host of personal bests achieved during the trials showing what the Sri Lankan athletes were capable of, given the proper infrastructure to perform. The newly laid synthetic track at the Sugathadasa Stadium has already shown signs of assisting the athletes to better their performances and is a great sign for the future of the sport in the country.
The Athletics Association of Sri Lanka will be holding a second trial for a selected few events on the 12th of May at the Sugathadasa stadium and will then finalize the squad for the Asian Games 2018.