Thursday, 8 August 2002  
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Government - Gazette

Sunday Observer

Budusarana On-line Edition

Susanthika and team determined to bring honour to the country

by Dinesh Weerawansa

Sri Lanka team captain, Susanthika Jayasinghe looked a confident lass as her team checked in to their hotel in Colombo yesterday. "We all are making every effort to make our country proud.

This is an important event for all of us and we should make every effort, to come out on top" a determined Jayasinghe said on the eve of the Asian Athletic championships. SAF Games gold medallist Sujeewa Nilmini Jayasena was yesterday added to the Sri Lanka team to compete in women's 10,000 as the selection process of the Sri Lanka team for the X1Vth Asian Championship.

Also added to the new 103-member Sri Lanka team yesterday was Mangala Priyadharshani, along with Shalika Dias. The latter qualified for the women's 4 x 100m team after Tuesday's much talked about relay trial. The bad news from the Sri Lanka camp is the withdrawal of experienced woman sprinter Nimmi de Soysa due to an injury. The 'Black pearl' of Ratnapura, Jayasena has been Sri Lanka's leading women's long distance runner. But she failed to gain a place in the original Sri Lanka team for the Asian championship after being forced to withdraw halfway in the women's 10,000m final at the recent Sri Lanka National championship.

However, none of the top three competitors of this event at the Nationals came now where near Jayasena and the national selectors decided only to include the gold and silver medallists to compete at the Asian Championship.

Since Sri Lanka could have three competitors in each event as the hosts (while other countries could only have two each), the local national selection committee yesterday decided to include Jayasena, who holds the Sri Lanka record in both women's 5,000m (16:59.33) and 10,000m (35:02.54).

However, Jayasena will only compete in women's 10,000m with M.A.Chandrawathi and D.A.Inoka being Sri Lanka's other two entries.

Sri Lanka's women's 4 x 400m relay team suffered a big set back on the eve of the meet as Olympic sprinter Nimmi de Soysa was forced to pull out of the meet due to a hamstring injury. Her place in the relay team has now gone to D.H. Mangala Priyadharshani, who holds the current women's 800m national record of 2:06.52. Priyadharshani who had encouraging timings in women's 800m during the national team's training stint in Malaysia, did not compete at the recent National champions on medical advice as she had been suffering from dengue fever.

As a result, she lost her place in women's 800m for the Asian Championship. But on submission of a medical report clearing the middle distance runner for competition, she was added to the Sri Lanka team to replace injured Nimmi de Soysa.

The other members of Sri Lanka's 4 x 400m women's relay squad are Damayanthi Darsha, P.M.D.P. Wickremasighe, K.L.L.

Gunawardena, L.S. Irangani and Swarnamali Edirisinghe As exclusively stated in these columns, Jani Chathurangani (200m) and Swarnamali Edirisinghe (400m) have been picked to replace Asian Games double gold medallist Damayanthi Darsha, who has pulled out of her individual events due to a hamstring injury.

Darsha will run win women's 4 x 400m relay, though she was sacked from women's 4 x 100m relay team after failing to run in the special 100m relay trial on Tuesday. The final 103-member Sri Lanka team for the Asian Championship, after a series of meetings of the National selection committee, was finally approved by the Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports, Johnston Fernando yesterday.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's national athletic coach, Dervin Perera said the morale of the host team is high and they are confident of doing well on home soil. Perera said Sri Lanka athletes have been making a lot of preparations with overseas training in Thailand and Malaysia.

"They are in good shape and I hope Sri Lanka would make their presence felt," he sad.

Sampath Bank

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