The champion Javelin thrower Sumedha Ranasinghe and Nilani Ratnayake, the 3000 metres steeplechase champion who missed Olympics participation last year, and produced a new steeplechase national record were adjudged the best male and female athletes at the Sri Lanka Athletics Centenary National Championship concluded at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium Diyagma on Saturday.
The Olympian Sumedha Ranasinghe is the only athlete to have reached locally set qualifying standards for the Asian Games in the men’s category. His 81.79 metres mark recorded in March is the third-longest throw in Asia this year and 31-year-old Ranasinghe hurled a distance of 82.18m, surpassing his own record of 80.76m to win the event and the best athlete award at this centenary meet. His attempt was nine metres ahead of the second-placed, D.S. Ranasinghe who cleared 73.18m. R.M. Fernando won third place clearing 71.42m. Rumesh Tharanga the promising athlete from St. Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya, achieved 69.93 metres and was placed fourth and his achievement paved the way to qualify for the World Junior Athletic Championship.
Meanwhile, Nilani Ratnayake the 31-year-old soldier battered her previous 3000m steeplechase record with a time of 9:40.24 seconds finish. She bettered the qualifying standards by three seconds to win the Overall Best Female Athlete award.
Javelin thrower Sumedha Ranasinghe and triple jumper Chamal Kumarasiri established new meet records on the concluding day of the meet while earlier on the first stage of the meet from April 8 to 10 Gayanthika Abeyratne (1500m) Sachini Perera (Pole Vault) set up new National records while Champion long jumper Sarangi Silva also set up a new meet record.
In the women’s 100m dash, Amashi de Silva once again became the fastest woman with a time of 11.69secs, finished ahead pushing Rumeshika Ratnayake to second place with a timing of 11.87 secs. Shelinda Jansen finished third with a time of 11.93 secs.
The men’s 100 metres were held without the two fastest men. While former national record holder Himasha Eshan remains suspended, current record holder Yupun Abeykoon is based in Italy. In their absence, Chamod Yodhasinghe once again became the fastest man clocking 10.50 secs while N. Chathuranga and D.C. Piyumal grabbed the second and three places with 10.60 secs and 10.69 secs respectively.
After a close tussle for the long sprint (400m) experienced Kalinga Kumarage beat Aruna Darshana to win the title clocking 45.88 secs. Darshana finished second in 45.90 secs while P.L. Lakshan clocked 46.71 secs to be placed third. The promising athlete from Walala A. Ratnayake Central once again came to the limelight when she won the 400m final clocking (53.85 secs) and young Jayeshi Uththara (54.14 secs) and experienced Nadeesha Ramanayake (54.29 secs) grabbed second and third three places respectively.