92nd National Athletics Championships Gayanthika
makes strong case for Asian Games selection with personal best



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by Reemus Fernando

Sri Lanka Navy athlete Gayanthika Thushari Abeyratne made a strong case to be selected for the Asian Games, as she won the women’s 800 metres in a personal best time of two minutes and 04.46 seconds on day two of the 92nd National Athletics Championships, at the Sugathadasa Stadium yesterday.


Despite the absence of her arch rival and favourite W. K. L. A. Nimali, the 27-year-old maintained a steady speed to finish ahead of former champion Champika Dilrukshi, who returned a time of 2:05.64 secs.


The athlete, coached by Sajith Jayalal said that she was aiming for the National record (2:03.85 secs) of Olympian Dhammika Menike as that would help her qualify for the Asian Games.


The Athletics Association of Sri Lanka set qualifying standards to pick the team for the Asian Games and were considering the National Championship as a final selection ground. The qualifying mark for the women’s 800 metres was set at 2:05.28 secs.


"I gave my hundred percent to train and gave my hundred percent in the race. That is why I was able to reach the qualifying standards," Abeyratne told The Island.


"I was aiming at the National record, but missed it. Probably I could have achieved it had there been more competition," said Abeyratne in reply to a query.


Her previous personal best was two minutes and 04.91 seconds. She achieved it at last year’s National Championships, where she was the runner-up to Nimali.


Within minutes after clocking a personal best time in the 800 metres, she also competed in the women’s 400 metres heats and qualified to compete in the final.


W.K.L.A. Nimali, who skipped the 800 metres heats on Tuesday competed in the 400 metres heats and qualified for the final. Leading sprinter Chandrika Subashini was the fastest in the 400 metres heats as she clocked 53.93 seconds.


Meanwhile, in the men’s 800 metres final, Sri Lanka Army’s Indunil Herath almost beat the qualifying standards when he too clocked his personal best performance. Herath finished in a time of one minute and 48.69 seconds. His feat was just 01.18 seconds shy of the qualifying standard. Sri Lanka Navy athlete Amila Damith Kumara too reached his personal best as he pushed hard in the last 50 metres to win the second place. He clocked one minute and 49.76 seconds. Junior Asian Athletics Championship participant Kupun Kushantha, who returned the best time in the heats on Tuesday, could not complete the race.


In the absence of leading thrower Nadeeka Lakmali, her training partner Dilhani Lekamge threw the javelin a distance of 55.87 metres, which was only 0.04 metres short of the qualifying standard.


In the men’s shot putt, Joy Danushka Perera hurled a distance of 15.40 metres to beat Charith Kapukotuwa (14.94m) to second place.


While school athlete Ireshani Rajasinghe won the women’s 100 metres hurdles in a time of 14.85 seconds, N.C.D. Priyadharshani won the women’s long jump with a feat of 6.11 metres. Priyadharshani was also the winner of the women’s 100 metres dash on day one.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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