Focus on Nilani Ratnayake as SL athletes leave for India

Nilani Ratnayake
Nilani Ratnayake

The 10-member Sri Lanka athletics team left for India yesterday to take part in the 66th National Inter-State Athletics Championship from June 25 to 29 in the Punjab State, Patiala.

Earlier, Sri Lanka Athletic (SLA) had planned to send a 16-member contingent for this meet but the squad was reduced under instructions from the National Sport Council (NSC).

This meet will be the final chance for the Sri Lankan athletes to achieve their Olympic qualification standards.

The five frontline athletes for the Road to Olympics are Kalinga Kumarage (400m), Nimali Liyanarachchi (800m), Sumedha Ranasinghe (javelin throw), Nadeesha Ramanayake(400m) and Nilani Ratnayake (3,000m steeplechase).

A five-member Women’s 4x100m relay team composed of Amasha de Silva, Medhani Jayamanne, Shelinda Jansen, Safiya Yamic and Lakshika Sugandi will also compete at this meet.

The two coaches accompanying the Sri Lanka Squad are Sujith Abeysekara and Vimukthi Soyza.

This meet will be crucial for Nilani Ratnayake who is in 39th place of the 3,000m steeplechase event.

She has to reach the top 45 to qualify for the Olympics and also she has to run at least below nine minutes and 45s.

Meanwhile, Italy-based Sri Lanka sprinter Yupun Abeykoon has reached the 46th place in the latest rankings for Olympic qualification issued by the IAAF.

According to SLA sources, Abeykoon who has obtained 1,203 points has already ensured his chances of reaching the Olympic qualifying standards. There are 39 sprinters who have already passed the required qualifying standard of 10.05s. Abeykoon’s best timing is 10.15s, which is the Sri Lankan and South Asian record set up recently in Germany.

Abeykoon is set to take part in another meet this week in an attempt to consolidate his Olympic qualifying standards before the deadline on June 29.

(Daily news)

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