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Sri Lankan spikers out to impress at South Asian Games

VOLLEYBALL: The Sri Lanka men's and the women's volleyball teams are all geared up to put up an impressive performance when the 10th South Asian Games gets under way on August 23 at the Sugathadasa indoor stadium.

Both teams have gone through a gruelling training session and now they are quite anxious to produce the results in front of their home crowd. Both teams do have a good track record where the South Asian Games volleyball tournament is concerned and this time they will have the added advantage of performing under favourable conditions.

In fact the Sri Lanka women's volleyball team put up a stunning performance before going down to India in the final at the 1999 South Asian Games which were held in Kathmandu. The men's team also have fared reasonably well in the recent past and had the honour of winning the gold medal at the 1995 South Asian Games which were held in India.

Both teams have had several motivation programmes and have been following a systematic training session for more than ten months under the guidance of Sisira Kumara (men's national coach), S. L. A. Sumith (assistant coach), Lalith Premalal (trainer), Sri Rathnamudali (women's national coach), I.P. Wijeratne (assistant coach), Janaka Indrajith (trainer).

The Volleyball Federation of Sri Lanka under the leadership of Deputy Minister and President Dilan Perera have also named some of the best and the most experienced administrators to guide the teams with Ranjith Premaratne as the manager of the men's team and Swarna Malkanthi as the manager of the women's team.

The defending champions India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka will be vying for honours in the men's championship while India, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka will battle it out for the women's title. In both men's and women's categories the teams will play each other on a league basis and the two top teams will clash in the finals.

The women's tournament of course was not held at the 2004 South Asian Games in Islamabad and this will be a great chance for the Sri Lankan spikers to prove their talent and potential. They fared prominently at the recent Central Asian tournament held in Colombo and the international exposure they received was really valuable for both teams.

In addition both teams had the opportunity of playing a series of matches in Vietnam as a preparation for the South Asian Games.

The Sri Lanka men's volleyball team: Malik Wasanthapriya (captain), M. S. K. Dimuthu Upashantha, Sameera Pradeep Dissanayake, M. C. Kodagoda, L. C. Ekanayake, Malith de Silva, K. M. K. Sunil, Melan Jayawardena, Tharaka Abeykoon, Naleen Sampath, Morris Chaminda, Lasantha Abeyratne.

The Sri Lanka women's volleyball team: Nayana Anupama (captain), Chandima Akarawita, Thakshila Niranjalee, Dinesha Prasadani, Viraji Chamarika, I. M. D. Illangakoon, Irosha Udayangani, Chandima Damayanthi, Isanka Balasuriya , Sugandika Nayomi, Mangalika Wasanthi and Anusha Deepani.

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