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Wrestler Nethmi targets Olympic gold medal

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Sri Lanka wrestling team manager Sarath Hewavitharana (right) with Nethmi Fernando proudly displaying her medal

 Sri Lanka’s youngest medallist in the history of the Commonwealth Games 18-year-old Nethmi Hansika Fernando is determined to bring more laurels to the country in the international arena after her epoch-making feat at the Coventry Arena in Birmingham.

The student of Welpalla Sangarathana Maha Vidyalaya, Kurunegala overpowered an opponent 12 years her senior Australia’s Irene Symeonidis to win a historic bronze medal for Sri Lanka in the women’s 57kg Freestyle wrestling event at the XXII Commonwealth Games. This was Sri Lanka’s fourth medal at the Games. Paralympian Palitha Bandara (silver), Dilanka Kumara (bronze) and Yupun Abeykoon (bronze) are the other medal winners for Sri Lanka.

“My coach Suranga Kumara told me to fight like how the Indian (Anshu Malik) fought against me in the semifinal,” said Nethmi who picked herself after being outclassed to win the bronze medal clash against the tough Australian. Taking part in her first senior international competition since making her debut at the 2021 World Junior Championship in Russia where she went the distance against Italian and Kyrgyzstan opponents, Nethmi was momentarily stunned after her defeat to the eventual silver medallist in her weight class.

“I don’t know what happened against the Indian wrestler. Perhaps she was more experienced than me. All that I did in training came to my mind in the semifinals. I was determined not to let a medal that was within my grasp slip away. I was determined to win for my country,” said the Nethmi, the second child in a family of four from Pannala who took up the sport because of her friend and Sri Lanka teammate Chamodya Madumali Vithanage who competed in the Women’s Freestyle 53 kg – Nordic at the Games. The rest as they say is history.

After her coach Suranga Kumara took the permission of her parents to do wrestling, she swept all before her in competitions at the district, province, and national being adjudged the best performer in 2019. “I won gold medals after just two months of training. My coach took me to competitions around the country to show me how to fight. Since then I have not given any point in a six-minute match to any opponent,” she said proudly.

Even during her two-month training stint before the Commonwealth Games in Hungary where she learned new techniques and tactics, she prevailed over the juniors and also grappled with seniors to hone her skills.

“I was always confident of winning a medal at the Commonwealth Games. I wanted to win the gold medal but after losing to the Indians, I was even more determined to win for my country. I remembered the years of rope training even with blisters in my hand and mentally prepared myself for the medal match. My Australian opponent was strong but I thought she also has two hands and legs like so why should I get scared? I have got the best coach in the world. I can’t let him down.

I lifted myself mentally and physically,” said Nethmi whose target is to win gold at the Olympics and at every international competition she represents Sri Lanka in future. President of the Wrestling Federation of Sri Lanka Sarath Hewavitharana said she needs to take part in at least 10 international tournaments before going for the 2024 Paris Olympics. He expressed his gratitude to National Olympic Committee (NOC) president Suresh Subramaniam who predicted that wrestling has the potential to win medals and has promised to get Nethmi a scholarship to train in Hungary.

“I was confident she will win a medal,” said Hewavitharana, a former wrestling champion. Sri Lanka’s shuttle stars Dumindu Abeywickrama and veteran Niluka Karunaratne bowed out in the round of 16 on the penultimate day of the men’s singles badminton competition. Abeywickrama lost to India’s Srikanth Kidambi while Karunaratne lost to Singapore’s Jia Heng after keeping Sri Lanka’s flag flying in the singles competition.

Sri Lanka men’s beach volleyball pair Malintha Yapa and Ashen Rashmika went down fighting in the beach volleyball quarter-final against Australia. Team England teenager Marfa Ekimova claimed the individual all-around Commonwealth title with a narrow victory over closest rival Anna Sokolova of Cyprus.

The 17-year-old impressed to take gold with a combined total of 112.300 to win by just 0.200 as she led after the first rotation – claiming 28.850 points – with the hoop before sealing the title with 27.100 in the ribbon.



Women’s Freestyle 53 kg – Nordic Mercy Bolafunoluwa Adekuoroye (Nigeria) beat Chamodya Keshani Vithanage (Sri Lanka) VSU (10 – 0) after 1:12, Vinesh Phogat (India) beat VFA (Victory by Fall) after 2:24 Chamodya Keshani Vithanage (Sri Lanka)

Women’s Freestyle 50 kg- Group B: Madison Parks (Canada) beat Sriyanthika Niroshani (Sri Lanka) VSU (12-0) after 3:26 Women’s Freestyle 62 kg – quarter-final: Esther Omolayo Kolawole (Nigeria) beat Sachini Umanga Silva Weraduwage (Sri Lanka) VSU (10-0) after 0:31 seconds Victory by technical superiority without any point scored by an opponent

Women’s Freestyle 57 kg – Bronze: Nethmi Ahinsa Fernando Poruthotage (Sri Lanka) beat Irene Symeonidis (Australia) VSU 10-0 after 1:51, Semi-final: Anshu Malik (India) beat Nethmi Ahinsa Fernando Poruthotage (Sri Lanka) VSU (10-0) after 1 minute 04 seconds, Quarter-final: Nethmi Ahinsa Fernando Poruthotage (Sri Lanka) beat Joseph Emilienne Essombe Tiako (Cameroon) VFO (Victory by forfeit – if an athlete does not show up on the mat).

Men’s Freestyle 86 kg – 1/8 final: Suresh Chanaka Warnakulasuriya Fernando (Sri Lanka) beat Jean Frederic Marianne (Mauritius) VFA (Victory by fall) 2-0 after 0:37, Quarter-final: Alexander Moore (Canada) beat Suresh Chanaka Warnakulasuriya Fernando (Sri Lanka) VSU 10-0 after 0:25


Men’s quarter-final: Australia (McHugh/Burnett) beat Sri Lanka (Malintha Yapa/Ashen Rashmika) 2-1 (16-21 21-16 15-9)

Women’s quarter-final: Canada (Pavan/Melissa) beat Sri Lanka (Deepika Bandara /Chathurika Weerasinghe) 2-0 (21-9 21-11)


Men’s Singles Round of 16: Srikanth Nammalwar Kidambi (India) beat Dumindu Abeywickrama (Sri Lanka) 2-0 (21-9 2-12), Jia Heng Teh (Singapore) beat Niluka Karunaratne (Sri Lanka) 2-0 (21-13 21-11) Mixed Doubles Round of 16:Sachin Dias / Thilini Hendahewa (Sri Lanka) beat Robert Summers/ Scholtz Johanita Scholtz (South Africa) 2-0 (18-21 8-21) Men’s Doubles Round of 16: Sachin Dias/ Buwaneka Goonetilleka (Sri Lanka) beat Ahmed Nibal / Ajfan Rasheed (Maldives) 2-0 (21-12 21-8)


Men’s Doubles quarter-final: Peng Soon Chan / Kian Meng Tan (Malaysia) beat Sachin Dias / Buwaneka Goonetileke 2-0 (21-16 21-12), Round of 16: Cameron Pilley/ Rhys Dowling (Australia) beat Ravindu Laksiri / Shamil Wakeel (Sri Lanka) 2-0 (11-7 11-7)

Mixed Doubles quarter-final: Chanithma Sinaly/ Wakeel Shamil (Sri Lanka) beat Amanda Haywood / Shawn Simpson (Barbados) 2-0 (11-7 11-9), Ashley Khalil / Jason-Ray Khalil (Guyana) beat Yeheni Kuruppu / Ravindu Laksiri (Sri Lanka) 2-0 (11-10 11-3)

Mixed Doubles – quarter-final: Marcus Ellis / Lauren Smith (England) beat Sachin Dias / Thilini Hendahewa (Sri Lanka) 21- (21-12 21-19)


Men’s 400m Semifinal 1: Haron Adoli (Uganda) 45.80 seconds Q, Boniface Ontuga Mweresa (Kenya) 45.85 Q, Anthony Cox (Jamaica) 45.98 q, Steven Solomon (Australia) 46.30 q

Semifinal 2: Jonathan Jones (Barbados) 45.82 Q, Muzala Samukonga (Zambia) 46.06 Q, Matthew Hudson-Smith (England) 45.77 Q, Nathon Allen (Jamaica) 45.99 Q, Kalinga Kumarage (Sri Lanka) 47.00

First 2 in each heat (Q) and the next 2 fastest (q) advance to the final

Women’s 3000m Steeplechase – Final:1 Jackline Chepkoech (Kenya) 9:15.68 GR, 2 Elizabeth Bird (England) 9:17.79, 3 Peruth Chemutai (Uganda) 9:23.24, 4 Aimee Pratt (England) 9:27.41, 5 Amy Cashin (Australia) 9:35.63, 6 Eilish Flanagan (Northern Ireland) 9:57.18, 7 Nilani Ratnayaka (Sri Lanka) 10:00.34, 8 Brielle Erbacher (Australia) 10:59.64


Men’s 3m Springboard – Preliminary 15 Dulanjan Kaushalya Fernando (Sri Lanka) 217.95 points



Monday, August 8, 2022 – 01:00

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