Nimali’s bold attempt, Chandika’s usual best highlight final day


W.K.L.A. Nimali produced one of the best performances witnessed in recent times in a women’s 800 metres at the athletics trials ended at the Sugathadasa Stadium yesterday.(Pic by Reemus Fernando)

by Reemus Fernando

Middle distance runner Nimali Liyanarachchi’s (W.K.L.A Nimali) bold attempt to break Olympian Dhammika Menike’s 800 metres national record spurred her to one of the best performances of the meet before sprinter Chandrika Subashini topped the women’s events of the two-day athletics trial with her usual best at the Sugathadasa Stadium yesterday.

After US based hurdler Christine Merrill had hogged limelight on day one, both Subashini and Nimali gave consolation for enthusiasts who back home grown talent for continuing athletics against many odds.

With former national champion Champika Dilrukshi and seasoned runner Gayanthika Abeyratne lining up for the final, the women’s 800 metres was destined for a close finish, but the athlete hailing from Suriyawewa was ahead of her rivals when she entered the home strait and maintained a steady lead to stop the clock nearly one second shy of the national record.

"I was targeting the record. But I found it difficult during the first 200 metres. If not for that I would have probably broken the record," Nimali told The Island.

The Sri Lanka Air Force athlete was referring to the 22-year-old record established by Dhammika Menike at the Barcelona Olympics. While Abeyratne clocked two minutes and 05.33 seconds, Dilrukshi was third with a time of 2:07.67 seconds.

Subashini was the undisputed favourite for the 400 metres title and she lived up to her billing producing probably the best performance of the meet as she returned a time of 53.49 seconds. However, the performances of rest of the 400 metres runners cast doubts over the possibility of fielding a relay team for the up coming international events as the next best performer B.D.G. Pathmakumari could return only a time of 55.19 seconds.

Christine Merrill was expected to produce a better performance in the 400 metres final yesterday. But she failed to match her feat in the heats (58.46 secs) as she won in a time of 58.66 seconds.

Asian Championship medalist Nadeeka Lakmali’s impressive throw of 57.97 metres in the javelin on Saturday, Merrill’s performance in her new event of 100 metres hurdles and Eranga Dulakshi’s 10:24.64 secs finish in the 3000 metres steeplechase were the other notable performances in the women’s category of the two day athletics trials which was considered a selection trial for Commonwealth Games.

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