Asian Games: Sri Lanka has much to expect | Sunday Observer

Asian Games: Sri Lanka has much to expect

16 July, 2023
Yupun Abeykoon
Yupun Abeykoon

The buzz of the Asian Games is now vibrating, especially the track and field segment that is coming into focus. It’s inevitable, when a country boasts of a sprinter who has clocked the 100 metres in under 10secs.

Right now, it is about two moons away from the Hangzhou spectacle and everyone expects it to be a trailblazer. Coach Madawa Senerath is a person who lives athletics and likes to feel the pulse of the Lankan track and field. In short, he understands how the machine works and how much oil should be pumped into the cogs to keep it turning without any blaring alarms.

‘GoodSport’ was inquisitive to delve into this shelf of knowledge and usurp some knowledge as to how Sri Lankan athletes could make an impact and to his mind, they may be, taking the Asian Championship contingent as a yardstick and that too coming sans the contributions of short distance ace Yupun Abeykoon and high jumper Ushan Thiwanka.

Senerath delved into his explanation and said: “Both Yupun Abeykoon and Ushan Thiwanka are just coming out of injury, but the chances of high jumper Thiwanka making it into China is very slim for more reasons than one.

On the other hand, Yupun seems to be recovering from his last outing on May 30 where he sustained an injury while he was on the last five metres of the 100m, but he still finished it with a timing of 10.1.

“From what I have learned, he will be back on track sooner than later and definitely be a part of the Asian Games ensemble. We still have more than two months for the Games and he has ample time to recover.”

“The other event that the Lankan fans should keep a mark on is the women’s 800-metre event. Currently, our athletes are in the first two slots in the Asian Games rankings - Tharushi Karunaratne and Gayanthika Abeyratne.

“As far as I am concerned, two athletes could be among the podium rankers during the games.

“I am making this statement considering their current form and I hope and pray it will not be a slip between the cup and the lip.”

Senerath explained that there could be stiff opposition from countries like India, where one competitor is doing 2.1 and some others 2.3 and 2.4. He opines that both Karunaratne and Abeyratne could do better in the present context.

“I also have been watching the progress of 400-metre runner Aruna Dharshana. He is improving by the hour and is keen to beat the clock. He is mentally very tough and can perform well under pressure. So, I feel this is another athlete that we keep a close tab on.

“Then, talking of the 4x400 metres relay, we have a very talented squad that is training in preparation for the games.

“Once again, in this quartet, we can expect Aruna Dharshana to take an important role.

“Along with him, there are runners in the calibre of Kalinga Kumarage, a very young athlete by the name of Pabasara Niku and Rajitha Rajakaruna – in case of an injury.

“If they are a part of the mixed 4x400 metres relay, Dharshana, Niku/Kumarage along with the two female middle distant runners - Tharushi and Nadeesha Ramanayake could form the quartet. There is another middle-distance runner in Dilshi Kumarasinghe who is training down the line.

“Along the line, Sarangi Silva the dual purpose (Long Jump and 100metres) is an experienced campaigner and I feel that she is also in the reckoning.

“We also have Nadeesha Lekamge in the javelin throw - even though she is now in the region of 59 metres.

“Nonetheless, there is competition here with some Asian competitors in the reckoning covering 60-65 metres. But, one could never say what the pressure of competition could turn out to be.

“There is also a young triple jumper who has caught the eye - young Randi Cooray. She is currently covering 13:50 and she may be a late inclusion.

“Finally, steeplechase runner Nilani Ratnayake is currently shrouded with problems other than injury and may not be a part of the Asian Games in 2023.”

Senerath added that even Yupun could be challenged by runners from Japan, China and Qatar. “Yet, if Yupun is in prime form he certainly could be an Asian Games medal prospect,” said Senerath.