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Murali predicts bright future for sports

Muttiah Muralitharan

Sri Lankaís champion off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan believes that the end of the war in the country will open a new chapter for sportsmen and sportswomen with a prosperous future ahead of them.

The spin wizard who is currently representing the Chennai Super Kings in the second session of the high profile Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket tournament in South Africa was delighted with the news breaking moments before he took the field for the game against Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday.

Muralitharan has been the flag bearer of Sri Lanka cricket for more than two decades and most of his landmarks and milestones have been achieved under a cloud of terror.

The cancellation and postponement of tours and the reluctance of foreign teams to play in the troubles island have always drawn the attention making it difficult for the players to concentrate on the game.

Despite the amount of terror and violence in the country during the past, Muralitharan has been able to spread the message of peace and goodwill to the World through his heroics on the field where he is currently ranked number one in both Test and One Day Internationals.

It is no doubt that cricket has been the worse sport that has been hit by the war during this period where it reached a climax with a couple of teams pulling out of the 1996 Wills World Cup which was jointly hosted by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In fact Muralitharan was a part of that scenario where Sri Lanka eventually reached the zenith by defeating Australia in the final worked off at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan.

Since then Sri Lanka cricket has made steady progress with Muralitharan turning out to be a legend having risen from a humble beginning to the top of the wicket takers list. The 36 year old son of a hill country confectioner will now step into the field with a fresh hope and with the burning desire of touching the magical one thousand wicket mark in Test cricket.

Incidentally the upcoming home series against Pakistan and New Zealand will certainly be a stepping stone towards achieving that goal.

With the war coming to an end and more international cricket assured for Sri Lanka, Muralitharan is gearing up for another massive showdown which will provide him a great chance of calling it a day on a high note.

Chintana Vidanage

Chintana Vidanage

Sri Lankan sporting hero and weightlifter Chinthana Vidanage gladly welcomed the news of the country been fully liberated from the terrorists.

The Melbourne Commonwealth Games gold medallist in 2006 was elated having seen the end of the war totally, thanks to the efforts of the present Government headed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The 28 year old weightlifter showered praises on the three armed forces and the security personnel for their untiring efforts which has helped to reunite the country as one nation.

Vidanage of course had confidence on President Rajapaksa that the war would be eliminated totally from the country from the moment he came into power. He said that the President had acted fearlessly with some bold decisions and could be considered as a true leader of this nation.

Vidanage also noted that this Government had defeated terrorism at a time when others believed that it was not possible. The Beijing Olympic Games weightlifter said that he is now looking forward to a new era in sports in the country with a couple of important international meets lined up for the next two years. Vidanage first stole the limelight by winning back to back gold medals at the 2006 South Asian Games in Colombo which was followed by his historic effort at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

The former student of Royal Central College Polonnaruwa helped Sri Lanka to win their first ever gold medal in weightlifting by coming on top in the menís 62 kilograms weight class category. He also participated in the menís 69 kilograms clean and jerk event at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. During his memorable performance at the Beijing Olympics the champion lifter had the satisfaction of establishing three new Sri Lanka records.

He bettered his own Sri Lanka record in the menís 69 kg snatch from 120 kg to 128 kg also the total record from 280 kg to 293 kg. Vidanage said that his main target is the next Asian Games in China and also the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Before that he will have the opportunity of warming up when he competes in the South Asian Games to be held in Dhaka early next year. Vidanage said that with the eradication of terrorism he is looking forward to a tremendous season ahead and is determined to bring honour and glory back to the country.

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