Gayanthika, Nimali improve 800 metres record


Gayanthika Abeyratne (right) beats Nimali Liyanarachchi to the second place to win the women’s 800 metres with a new National Record. (Pic by Kamal Wanniarachchi)


by Reemus Fernando

Sri Lanka’s middle distance queens of Suriyawewa, namely Gayanthika Abeyratne and Nimali Liyanarachchi improved on the women’s 800 metres national record with stunning feats on Sunday and effectively doused the controversy theories of Olympic medalist Susanthika Jayasinghe and former national record holder of the distance Sriyani Dhammika Menike.

Olympian Dhammika Menike, who held the National record of the distance (2:03.85 secs) since 1992 and Olympic medalist Susanthika Jayasinghe cried foul when the duo from Suriyawewa lowered the 26-year-old record with performances calculated with hand-timing at the National Sports Festival in Jaffna last year.

They cited the absence of electronic timing as the reason to disregard the new record.

The duo from Suriyawewa vowed to produce a better performance on a synthetic track and they did exactly that on the final day of the season-starting National athletics trials at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium yesterday.

Abeyratne, coached by reputed long distance coach Sajith Jayalal, clocked two minutes and 2.55 seconds to establish the new record and win in a photo finish. She edged out favourite Nimali Liyanarachchi by metre 0.03 seconds. Liyanarachchi’s feat too was more than one second faster than the 1992 record of Dhammika Menike.

Incidentally it was Liyanarachchi who took under her belt the National record of Dhammika Menike last year when she clocked 2:03.5 seconds (hand timing) to win the 800 metres ahead of Abeyratne in Jaffna.

The athletic fraternity had been urging authorities nearly a year in vain to fix a problem in the country’s only electronic timing system by the time the National Sports Festival was held in Jaffna in October. There only hand timing was used to calculate time.

At that point, Liyanarahchi clocked 2:03.5 seconds to win.

Both Susanthika Jayasinghe and Dhammika Menike urged the Sports Minister and the athletic authorities to nullify Liyanarachchi’s record citing absence of electronic timing.

Athletics officials successfully proved that the record established in Jaffna was in accordance to IAAF rules.

Yesterday electronic timing was functioning after a lapse of one year.

However technical officials had to encounter other problems due to the failure of authorities of the stadium to provide enough man power to prepare for events.



Women’s 800 metres: 1. Gayanthika Thushari Abeyratne of SL Navy - 2:02.55 secs, 2. Nimali Liyanarachi of SL Air Force - 2:02.58 secs, 3. NMG Dilruskshi of SL Army- 2:08.89 secs.

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