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Asian Grand Prix series is to provide vital exposure for Lankan athletes

ATHLETICS: Sri Lanka will be hoping that the Asian Grand Prix Series which begins on Thursday in Bangkok will provide them the ideal launching pad ahead of the South Asian Games to be staged in Colombo later this year.

The cream of the Sri Lankan athletes including Sydney Olympic Games women's 200 metres bronze medallist Susanthika Jayasinghe will compete in a star studded line up that is expected to provide tough competition with the last two events to be hosted by India in Bangalore (May 22) and Pune (May 26) respectively.

This event is quite a significant one for the Sri Lankan athletes who are also tipped to make their presence felt at the forthcoming Asian Games in Doha Qatar later this year.

They will of course miss the services of veteran woman sprinter Damayanthi Darsha and promising athlete C. I. Wijekoon.

Darsha who was tipped to run in the women's 200m event along with Susanthika Jayasinghe was ruled out with a leg injury while Wijekoon who was expected to run in the men's 3000m event pulled out due to ill health .

Even then the six member Sri Lankan contingent is expected to make their presence felt with the experienced duo of Rohan Pradeep Kumara and Prasanna Amarasekera anxious to prove themselves in this important meet.

In addition Umanga Sanjaya Surendra will participate in the men's 100m event and Harajan Ratnayake will run in the men's 400 metres hurdles while Menaka Wickremasinghe will compete in the women's 400 metres event. However the cynosure of all eyes will be on the 30 year old Susanthika Jayasinghe who is making a comeback after a lapse of two years.

Jayasinghe is ready to return to international track having completed a sprint double at the recent UCA International meeting in Los Angeles where she won both the women's 100m (11.37 seconds) and 200m (23.11) respectively.

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