Nimali breaks record, Manjula tops ranking, Alilima is evergreen

39th National Sports Festival


by Reemus Fernando

A crowd pleasing performance from high jumper Manjula Kumara, a record-breaking feat from W.K.L.A Nimali and a gold medal victory at the age of 43 by Talavou Alilima lit up the second day of the Athletics Championship of the 39th National Sports Festival here at the Jayathilaka Stadium, Nawalapitiya yesterday.

Sri Lanka high jump record holder Manjula Kumara has cleared better heights this year, but his 2.18 metres feat was good enough to win the gold and the loudest applauds on the second day.

It had been customary for Manjula to appeal for cheers when he attempts higher marks and there was no exception yesterday. And the crowds, mostly consisting of athletes, provided him more than what he asked.

Despite producing a below par performance, his mark of 2.18 metres topped the rankings for the best athlete title by the end of the second day.

In the women’s segment Southern Province athlete W.K.L.A. Nimali’s two minutes and 06.65 seconds performance in the 800 metres was the best feat of the meet so far.

The athlete, who impressed with a far better performance at the final leg of the Asian Grand Prix in May, established a new meet record on grass.

Competing shoulder to shoulder with Gayanthika Abeyratne, Nimali ran the fastest race of the National Sports Festival history despite the absence of several leading contenders, namely defending champion Champika Dilrukshi and former winner Shanika Samanmali.

Abeyratne finished second in a time of two minutes and 07.31 seconds, while Eranga Dulakshi finished third (2:12.11sec) to make a clean sweep for Southern Province in this discipline. Later Dulakshi won a gold in the women’s 400 metres hurdles.

In the men’s discus throw former champion Talavou Alilima made a return in the same way he did in 2011 and won gold. The 43-year-old, who is more into championing a development program (Lion Warrior) for young athletes, has made surprise returns in the recent past. A throw of 44.14 metres won him his 12th Discus Throw title in the National Sports Festival championships.

Meanwhile 24-year-old Janaka Prasad Wimalasiri filled the void created by the absence of leading contender Sampath Dissanayake as he cleared a distance of 7.49 metres to win the men’s long jump title.

The Central Province athlete also turned tables on veteran W.P.A. Jayasiri who settled for the silver with a feat of 7.28 metres. Sudeera Nilanga won the bronze with a distance of 7.2 metres.

Results of yesterday’s events:

Men’s pole vault: 1. L.A.R.K.K. Balasooriya (North Western) 4.62m, 2. M.I. Sampath (North Western) 4.4m, 3. M.H.I. Sandaruwan (Western) 4.4m.

Women’s 800m: 1. W.K.L.A. Nimali (Southern) 2:06.65secs, 2. Gayanthika Abeyratne (Southern) 2:07.31secs, 3. Eranga Dulakshi (Southern) 2:12.11 secs.

Men’s 800m: 1. P.H. Chamal (Southern) 1:52.47 secs, 2. S.K. Wedagedara (Central) 1:52.76secs, S.K. Dissanayake (Uva) 1:53.47secs.

Men’s long jump: 1. Janaka Prasad Wimalasiri (Central) 7.49m, 2. W.P.A. Jayasiri (North Western) 7.28m, 3. Sudeera Nilanga (Western) 7.2m.

Men’s shot putt: 1. A.J.D. Perera (Eastern) 14.85m, 2. Prabath Danushka Perera (Western) 13.75m, 3. M.G.I.T. de Silva (Western) 13.61m.

Men’s discus throw: 1. Talavou Alilima (Western) 44.14m, 2. Danushka Perera (Western) 41.71m, 3. T.G.D. Chathuranga (Southern) 41.55m.

Women’s long jump: 1. N.C.D. Priyadharshani (Western) 5.82m, 2. Sarangi Silva (Western) 5.76m, 3. D.V.C.M. Thilakaratne (North Western) 5.75m.

Men’s high jump: 1. Manjula Kumara (Southern) 2.18m, 2. B.D.K.S. Baddavithana (Uva) 1.98m, 3. M.W.V.R.N. Wiyanage (Sabaragamuwa) 1.94m.

Men’s 400m hurdles: 1. S.P. de Silva (Western) 52.81secs, 2. R.P.D. Sasanka (Western) 52.86 secs, 3. M.G.H. Bandara (North Central) 53.41secs.

Women’s 400m hurdles: 1. Eranga Dulakshi (Southern) 1:01.57 secs, 2. T.G.N.D. Wickramasinghe (North Western) 1:03.06secs, 3. E.P.K. Madushani (North Western) 1:03.65 secs.

Men’s 200 metres: 1. Asanka Pathirana (Central) 21.65secs, 2. J.A.N.S. Jayathilaka (Uva) 22.13secs, 3. Chanaka Nadeeshan (Central) 22.13secs.

Women’s 200 metres: 1. Chandrika Subashini (North Western) 24.44 secs, 2. P.D.Y.N. Abeywickrama (Central) 25.15 secs, 3. D. Fernando (Western) 25.47secs.

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