Much expected at Junior National Athletics | Sunday Observer

Much expected at Junior National Athletics

7 May, 2023
Silver medal winners Thushen Silva (left) and Nilupul Pehesara
Silver medal winners Thushen Silva (left) and Nilupul Pehesara

With medal winning performances at the Asian Youth Athletic Championships and the recently held event in Japan young athletes will be inspired and determined to perform well at the 63rd Junior National Championships to be held from May 7 to 10 at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Sports Complex in Diyagama.

This will also function as the final trial for selections to the Commonwealth Youth Games to be held in August in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago this year.

Focus will fall on the under-18 age category for selections for the Youth Games. Sri Lanka Athletics will also send a boys and girls relay team to the West Indies as Sri Lanka has a very good chance to win a medal in this event.

These details were revealed at a media briefing held by Sri Lanka Athletics in Colombo on Thursday (4). A total of 2265 athletes have entered to contest 3776 events to be conducted at the Junior Nationals that will cater to the age categories of under-16, 18, 20 and 23 for boys and girls. The events to be conducted are the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 3000m, 5000m, 10,000m, 2000m and 3000m steeple chase, 100m, 110m, 300m and 400m hurdles, 3000m, 5000m and 10,000m race walking, high jump, pole vault, long jump, triple jump, shot putt, Discus, javelin and hammer throw.

Entries for the Asian Games to be held in China in September will close on May 15 and the final trials have not been completed yet.

However, Maj. Gen. (rtd) Palitha Fernando said that they will send a men’s and women’s relay team that has the potential to win a medal.

Fernando also said that there is a long process in Sri Lanka to go through before the final team is selected and approved.

Already a couple of athletes are almost certain of their place in the team for the Commonwealth Youth Games that will conduct only athletic and swimming events.

These athletes are those who produced silver medal performances at the Asian Youth Championships held in Uzbekistan recently. They are pole vaulter Thushen Silva of Maris Stella College and Nilupul Pehesara the high jumper from Vijith Central Dickwella who look certain to be selected.

While they will attract attention at the Junior Nationals there are bronze medallists Akalanka in the 400 metres hurdles who produced a personal best time of 51.40 seconds and Nirmali Wickremasinghe who also produced her best time in the 800 metres events.

Akalanka who won the bronze medal in the 400 metres hurdles and Nirmali Wickremasinghe in the 800 metres plus the Asian Youth Championship participants Lesandhu Arthavindhu, Dulanjana Wickremasinghe, Jathya Kurula and Thushen Malindaratne will also be favourites to win in their respective events at the Junior Nationals. Many records are expected to fall in the under-18 age category.

The 400 metres event for boys under-16 has attracted 127 entries, the highest number this year.

The 2000 metres steeplechase event for boys under-18 has seen an increase in the number of entries thus forcing SLA to conduct heats as well.