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Schoolgirl Dulanjalee creates high jump history, wins gold

SA GAMES: Sixteen-year-schoolgirl, Dulanjalee Ranasinghe created history by winning women's high jump gold for Sri Lanka on the second day of the athletic competition worked off at Sugathadasa Stadium, Colombo yesterday.

Ranasinghe, a student at Devi Balika Vidyalaya, cleared an impressive height of 1.71m to take the gold medal while her Sri Lanka team mate Tharanga Vinodanai accounted for the silver with 1.68m.


Dulanjalee Ranasinghe - Pic: AP

It was after 15 long years that Sri Lanka won a women's high jump gold medal at SA Games, after that memorable double gold medals in high jump and 100m hurdles by Sriyani Kulawansa in 1991 at the very same venue when Sri Lanka hosted the fifth edition of the Games.

Ranasinghe said her hard work and dedication brought her success. "I made a lot of sacrifices and worked hard for this. Even I had to take time off my studies and make a lot of effort to fulfil my dream. I am happy that I could make a contribution towards Sri Lanka's gold haul," she said after her triumph.

Her coach, Dileema Peterson, a Sri Lankan gold medallist at the 1985 South Asian Games, was all delighter after her Devi Balika student's success.

"This is a gift given by the God. I went to church on Tuesday and made a vow. We have been blessed with a gold medal," she said. Peterson, one of Sri Lanka's leading athlete turned coaches, has put a lot of effort to sharpen the skills of young Ranasinghe.

"She has been training under me for the last four years. At the very early stages I identified the talents she had and though that she would bring glory to Sri Lanka one day. Those dreams have come true today," she added.

Incidentally, Peterson is the only former Sri Lanka SA Games female gold medallist to produce another gold medallist at SA games.

Rohan Pradeep Kumara, who won his second successive gold within 24 hours was a jubilant man. The former sailor clocked 46.33 to win men's 400m gold, ahead of compatriot Prasanna Amarasekera.

"It was great to win again. There was good competition at it was always nice to have that type of competition. It is even nicer to face that sort of competition and win," he observed.

The gold medallist in men's Javelin throw, Kingsly Gunatillake of Sri Lanka Navy said his life long dream came true with the triumph. A product of Tholangamu Central College, Gunatillake paid tribute to the Commander of Sri Lanka Navy and his fellow sailors for supporting him.

"When I did not have a job, it was Sri Lanka Navy which gave me support to reach this level," he said. It was former Royal athlete and ex-AASL Vice President Shemal Fernando who spotted Gunatillake's talents when he was the Navy Athletic chief.

"I must thank my school coach Sisilton Hettiarachchi who taught me the basics. Commodore Shemal Fernando and Commodore Colombage too helped me a lot to sharpen my skills," he said.

Sri Lanka sprint queen Susanthika Jayasinghe, who did the anchor lap for gold medal-winning women's 4 x 100m Sri Lanka team said she was confident that she could complete a golden triple.

"As I said things are getting back to normal. I am regaining my old touch.

I am confident than ever before and my aim right now to become the fastest woman at the 10th South Asian Games and complete three gold medal," she said. With women's 200m and 4 x 100m golds, the 30-year-old celebrated sprinter only needs women's 100m title to fulfil that dream.

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Produced by Lake House Copyright 2006 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

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