Karunathilaka creates decathlon history,‘clean coaching’ powers Upamali

Aniththa, Sugandhi also improve national records


Yupun Priyadharshana (left) won his maiden title in a time of 10.52 seconds as Vinoj Suranjaya (centre) sustained an injury just metres away from the finish line. Mohamed Ashrof (right) was placed second.

by Reemus Fernando

Athletics enthusiasts enjoyed a drama-filled second day as Ajith Karunathilaka, Lakshika Sugandhi and Jegatheeswaran Aniththa created new national records and several others, including Upamali Rathnakumari, excelled with personal best performances at the 95th National Athletics Championship at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium on Friday.

Sri Lanka Army’s Ajith Karunathilaka became the first Sri Lankan athlete to aggregate more than 7,000 points in the decathlon event as he concluded his final event, the 1,500 metres, in a time of 4.49.0 seconds (unofficial timing). His performances in the other events were 100m - 11.09 sec, long jump -7.12m, shot putt - 9.85m, high jump -1.89m, 400m - 49.8 secs, 110m hurdles - 15.10 secs, discus throw - 31.1m, pole vault - 4.6m and javelin throw - 56.2m. Karunathilaka’s previous record stood at 6,919 points.

Lakshika Sugandi aggregated 4,879 points to improve her own national record in the heptathlon.

Ratnakumari’s was probably the most impressive feat of the day in track events as she returned her personal best, an impressive 53.63 seconds to win the women’s 400 metres. Upamali’s feat was celebrated on the sidelines by her coach Sajith Jayalal who claimed in jubilation it was ‘a result of clean coaching’.

Nadeesha Ramanayake who finished second too clocked her personal best (54.69 secs). Nimali Liyanarachchi, the Asian Championship gold medalist in the 800 metres, running with an injury finished the 400 metres in third place, while Nirmali Madushika was placed fourth in a time of 55.29 seconds.

Jayalal’s proclamation comes at a time the athletics fraternity is eagerly waiting for authorities’ action following suspended athlete Pradeep Kumara’s serious allegation (during a hearing by the Anti Doping Authorities) that several other leading sprinters had used the prohibited substance for which he was found positive for.

Jayalal’s other famous trainee, Gayanthika Abeyratne won the 1,500 metres in a new meet-record time of 4:20.64 seconds. Champika Dilrukshi who returned a time of 4:20.92 seconds to finish second, also bettered the previous meet record.

Men’s 400 metres was dominated by Dilip Ruwan who finished in 46.66 seconds to win. Ajith Premakumara was second in a time of 46.85 seconds, while others failed to clock sub 47 seconds.

Men’s 100 metres witnessed an anticlimax of sorts as favourite Vinoj Suranjaya, after leading till the last 10 metres, sustained an injury to allow Yupun Priyadharshana win his maiden title in a time of 10.52 seconds. That gave Mohamed Ashrof the second place and former champion Shehan Ambepitiya the third place. Suranjaya limped in pain to finish last. Incidentally, his training partner and Sri Lanka record holder Himasha Eshan was a notable absentee. His coach said that the champion runner did not take part due to an injury.

In the women’s 100 metres, Kumari Ratnayake finished in a time of 11.82 seconds ahead of S. L. Vidanaduruge and school athlete Amasha de Silva who returned a time of 12.16 seconds.

Jegatheeswaran Aniththa cleared a height of 3.47 metres in the women’s pole vault to improve her national record by one centimetre. She had last improved the record three months back at the same venue.

Meanwhile Tharika Kumudumali Fernando established a new meet record in the women’s shot putt. She cleared a distance of 14.52 metres.

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