Nadeesha’s long wait is over | Sunday Observer

Nadeesha’s long wait is over

16 July, 2023
Nadeesha Ramanayake finishing victorious
Nadeesha Ramanayake finishing victorious

It is after 23 long years that a Sri Lankan athlete won a gold medal at an Asian Athletic Championship. This time it was Nadeesha Ramanayake the 28 year old from Weeraketiya who clinched the gold in the 400 metres race in the event held in Thailand on Thursday (13).

It was a long wait for her too having dedicated her life to intense training in the event and it was worth the wait as Nadeesha finished first in a time of 52.61 seconds in the 400 metres race for women.

The last time Sri Lanka won a gold in this event was in the year 2000 when Damayanthi Dharsha won the 400m and 200m races with championship record timings in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Ramanayake’s performance of 52.61 seconds is also her personal best (previous 52.80s) and all time third best performance by a Sri Lankan for women in the 400m after Dharsha’s (51.05) and Chandrika Subashini (52.36).

Ramanayake became the favourite to win the race as she had advanced to the final as the fastest from the heats. Mishra Ashwarya of India and Soliewa Farida of Uzbekistan were the others to have produced notable timings in the heats.

But, Ramanayake continued her form at the crucial moment to clinch gold beating Farida to second place.

At the last Asian Championships in Doha, Nadeesha was part of the 4x400 metres relay team that went on to break the national record in the final where the team finished just outside the podium.

Now having accomplished a remarkable achievement in the individual event she will be vying for medals in both the women’s 4x400 metres and the 4x400 metres mixed relay.

Her first international medal was a silver in the 800m at the South Asian Junior Championships in 2013.

Gayanthika Abeyrathna became the first Sri Lanka athlete to win a medal (bronze) at this championship competing in the women’s 1500m event finishing the race in a time of 4:14.39sec. She was the former Asian Indoor Champion in this event.

Gayanthika had previously won a silver in 2017 and a bronze in 2019 in her pet event the 800m marking her third medal in the AAC.

This is the first time Sri Lanka won a medal in the women’s 1500m at the AAC.

Nadeesha Lekamge improved her personal best by 1.05m and establishing a new Sri Lanka record with a performance of 60.93m (previous record 60.64 in 2013).

This is Nadeesha’s second medal at AAC. First she won a silver medal at the AAC in 2017. Nadeesha was eighth in 2013. Her throwing series was as follows, 52.79m, 59.13m SB, 57.15m, 59.32m SB, 60.93m PB, 59.39m. Importantly and statistically it was more competitive and the first time all three medal winners went over 60m at the AAC.

Overall it was Sri Lanka’s 60th medal.