Sri Lankan long distance runners for South Asian meet
Sri Lanka Athletics is trying to give more International exposure for the local athletes. Due to Covid-19 pandemic several opportunities were missed and it has directly affected gaining Olympic qualification for the athletes.
The South Asian Cross Country Championship will be held next year on January 15 in Nagaland ,India This is good news for Sri Lankan long distance runners said Vice President of Sri Lanka Athletics G.L.S Perera.
According to the invitation received by Sri Lanka Athletics last Wednesday there will be four championships senior and junior and men / women and each team will include four competitors.
If approved to participate in this competition at the Sri Lanka Athletics coaching sub committee meeting to be held next week the selection is likely to be held in the first week of December said the SLA Vice President.
Geethani Rajasekara and Anuradha Indrajith Cooray the two marathon athletes recently got a chance to take part in Olympics. However the present National long distance champion Hiruni Wijayaratne who is holding marathon, half marathon, 10,000 m and 5000m National records couldn’t reach the Olympic qualification for the Tokyo Olympics. Wijayaratne presently based in USA is working hard to fulfill her qualification for the next major games such as Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and Olympics.
The year 2022 has a heavy schedule for local athletes. Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships as well as youth Asian events are scheduled and this is going to be good exposure for local athletes. Most of the athletes couldn’t get a chance to take part in International events since 2019 South Asian Games.Hiruni Wijayaratne the Sri Lankan athlete based in USA won first South Asian Women’s marathon gold medal at the last South Asian Games in Kathmandu and she is the leading long distance runner based on her performance.
She is based in USA and that she get more chances to take part in more events to improve her performance but most of local athletes who are involved in the long distance events have limited facilities. Some of them are already busy training at Nuwara Eliya and Sri Lanka Athlatics is giving maximum support to them. Gaynathika Abeyratne, Nimali Liyanarachchi the middle distance athletes also focus on Asian Games while young Dilshi Kumarasinghe who set up new 800 metres National record recently but missed her all chances due to injury is once again looking to enter major games with more expectations.
Nilani Ratnayake the 3000m steeplechase athlete narrowly missed her Olympic chance due to lack of International meets and the athletes are looking to get more experience at International level.