Sports
Susanthika qualifies for 100m. semis

Asoka Goonetilleke in Sydney
Sri Lanka became ‘the talking point’ here on Friday when Susanthika Jayasinghe, now named "Dazzling Gazzle", in this part of the world, qualified for the semi-finals of women’s 100 metres.

She became the first Sri Lankan woman ever to reach the semi finals, in Olympic history, when she clocked 11.23 outside her personal best 11.04 and was placed 4th in the second round. On her way to the semi-finals, Susanthika bettered the existing Asian Games record held by Li Xiomi of China (11.97 in 1994), her own SAF record and the Sri Lanka record in the first heat where she reached the tape in 11.15 seconds. As she vowed after the first qualification she was eager and hungry for the second test. However a poor timing was evident when she took off to a faulty start. "I promised you, to do something special in the second round and I did it" she said adding "Thank god I am in the semi-finals though I came fourth. I have never been in an international semi-final of 100 metres before".

She will now run along with Tanya Lawrence of Jamaica (Ranked 6th - Personal Best 11.07), Eketerini Thanou of Greece (2nd - 10.83), Chrystie Gaines of US (9th - 10.89), Marion Jones of America (1st - 10.65), Sevetheda Fynes of Bahamas (5th - 10.91), Beverley McDonald of Jamaica (14th - 10.99) and Mercy Nku of Nigeria (11.20). Marion Jones of the US is tipped to win the gold in this event.

Meanwhile, Damayanthi Dharsha running in the second heat of women’s 400 meters clocked 52.13 secs to book a berth in the quarter-finals. Out of the eight heats worked off, her 52.13 is now ranked 19th considering her personal best of 51.05.

Sugath Tillekeratne, who qualified through his second place in 45.48 seconds is scheduled to appear in the second quarter-final. His team mate and national record holder Rohan Pradeep Kumara failed to qualify with his disappointing 46.00 seconds. This incidentally is his lowest for the season and 0.35 seconds outside his personal best 45.25. He blamed the poor start and cramps in his legs after 380 metres.

Theekshana

In the women’s 50 metre free style event, Theekshana Ratnasekera clocked a much improved 29.88 seconds to win the first heat worked out.

As she predicted, 24 hours before the event, she brushed aside the existing Sri Lanka record and also bettered her qualification mark and the personal best which won her the ticket to Sydney. She recorded a 30.62 for qualification in April in Colombo.

Sammar Nasser of Palestine clocked 31.28 and Rana Pradhan of Nepal clocked 31.28 to be placed second and third respectively.

All eight competitors of the virtually slow heat are wild card holders. Inge De Bruin of Netherlands, the world record holder (24.39) just dipped the existing Olympic Record (Yang Wenyi of China 24.79) on her way to the second round. She clocked 24.46.

Theekshana’s effort is now ranked 64/73 and Pradhan of Nepal and Fareena Fathima of the Maldives are ranked 65th and 69th.

Ruwini

The Sri Lankan sharp shooter, Ruwini Abeymanne, taking part in the women’s 25 meter pistol event, scored a poor 284 and bowed out of competition Friday. Her performance is also 89 points behind her Olympic qualifying mark, 373.

The 30 year old Sri Lankan Air security officer is now placed at 29 out of 41.


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