Dhammika breaks Manjula’s schools high jump record

School-goers keep athletics flame burning


Roshan Dhammika Ranatunga of Kularatne MMV, Godakawela competes in the Under-17 boys high jump event. (Pix by Kamal Bogoda)

Kupun Kushantha of Nalanda College (front) competes in the Under-21 boys’ 800 metres.

by Reemus Fernando

On a day Sri Lanka’s top notch track and field athletes concluded the Asian Games campaign without a single medal in Incheon, country’s school goers showed promise as usual with high jumper Roshan Dhammika Ranatunga of Kularatne MMV, Godakawela and middle distance runner Kupun Kushantha of Nalanda College topping a list of five meet records on day two of the National Schools Games at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Friday.

16-year-old Roshan Dhammika Ranatunga of Kularatne MMV, Godakawela shattered National Record holder and Sri Lanka’s Asian Games participant Manjula Kumara’s 14 year old schools record when he cleared 2.08 metres in the boys’ Under-17 high jump final. He commenced the jumps with the colours awarding height of 1.85 metres and cleared 1.93m, 1.97m, 2.00m and 2.04 metres in one attempt. Manjula Kumara’s record in the year 2000 was 2.03 metres. The jumper trained by Thiron Gamage improved the record for a second time when he cleared 2.08 metres on his second attempt. He raised the bar to 2.10 metres but abandoned the attempt when his short was damaged. A plastic object on the jumping mattress pricked his short when he leaned on to it in his first attempt.

Kupun Kushantha clocked one minute and 51.88 seconds to win the Under-21 boys’ 800 metres, becoming the first athlete ever in that category to run below one minute and 52 seconds at an All Island Schools Games.

Hurdlers Kaushalya Madushani of Kuliyapitiya MMV and Yamani Dulanjali of Ambagamuwa MV established new meet records winning the girls’ Under-21 and Under-17 400 metres hurdles with new meet records.

Madushani clocked 1:02.11 seconds to erase a record that had stood for 10 years, while Dulanjali returned a time of 1:04.33 seconds to establish a new record in her age category.

In sprint events, Asiri Wijesekara of Gateway International School clocked 22.44 seconds to win the Under-17 boys 200 metres. Wjesekara established a new record during heats on day one when he clocked 22.0 seconds (hand timing) to erase Keith De Mel’s 2006 record or 22.1 seconds.

There were quite a few upsets during the second day with national 100 metres champion Himasha Eshan’s defeat in the Under-21 200 metres topping them. Priyadharshana Abeykoon (Joseph Vaz) and Malik Khan (St. Peter’s) beat Eshan to the third place in the Under-21 boys 200 metres finals.

Impressive performances of school athletes at local competitions have kept enthusiasts hopes alive despite the country failing to win international medals at regional and multi sports international events during the last several years.

The second day of the athletics championship of the All Island Schools Games coincided with the final day of athletics at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

Sri Lanka’s track and field athletes failed to win a single medal at the Asiad for a second consecutive edition. Despite failures at international level, school coaches and PTIs have kindled hopes by producing athletes to look out for. However, country’s sports administrators have failed to nurture these budding athletes once they leave school.

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