Long Jumper Janaka Prasad Wimalasiri and Triple Jumper Vidusha Lakshani emerged Most Outstanding male and female athletes respectively at the 43rd National Sports Festival concluded at Matara on sunday.
Wimalasiri from Central Province leapt his personal best of 7.83m on Saturday to earn the Trophy. Lakshani who arrived in the country only on Friday after participating at the Asian Indoor Games, leapt to a new meet record of 13.22m eclipsing her own SL record to win the Trophy.
Western Province sealed the overall championship with a staggering count of 102 Gold medals, while Central Province finished second with 42 Gold medals. North Western Province finished third with 27 Gold medals.
Manoji sets new SL record
It was another change of title in the Hammer Throw as former record holder Manoji Amarasinghe regained the title setting a new SL record of 48.76m beating favourite Ayesha Maduwanthi. Amarasinghe trained by veteran throwing coach A.J. Rodrigo, set the SL record for the third time. The only other SL record during the meet was Jaffna athlete J. Anitha’s Pole Vault record of 3.48m.
In the Men’s high jump event, veteran 33 year old high jumper Manjula Kumara Wijesekara sealed his 8th consecutive and 10th overall title with a leap of 2.18m.
Himasha, Rumeshika fastest man and woman
After the disappointing relay disqualification, Himasha Eashan clocked 10.74 seconds (-0.3 headwind) to become the fastest man in the championship. Rumeshika Rathnayake who just arrived on Saturday night was allowed to compete directly in the 100m finals and it was a cake walk for her as she clocked 11.74 seconds (-3.0 headwind) to win the event.
In a hilarious turn of events, Sports Officers protested at the entry of Rumeshika directly into the finals, even though she was entered through a request from Sabaragamuwa Province which was accepted by the Technical Committee of the meet. She was sent to Japan by Athletics Association for a short scholarship and could not get back in time for the heats; hence, made the request.
In other events of the day, 400m National Champion Dilip Ruwan was comfortably beaten by Kalinga Kumarage. The women’s 400m too saw an upset with sub 54 runner Upamalika Rathnakumari beaten on the line by up and coming runner Nadeesha Ramanayake with a time of 55.03 in a photo finish.
Kotawila Stadium Matara where the NSF was held, is Nadeesha’s usual training venue too.
Gayanthika Abeyrathne sealed triple Gold as the 800m winner sealed the 1500m and ran an incredible second leg in the Southern Province 4x400m relay team which sealed the Gold medal. Asian Championship participant Waruna Lakshan Dayarathne finished in an unusual 4th place in the Javelin Throw which was won by D.S. Ranasinghe.