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Yupun and Nimali hard at practice for first round heats

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Liyanaarachchi is due to run in women’s 800m qualifying round heats on Friday (30) and on the following day (31), Abeykoon will sprint in the men’s 100m first round. Both of them looked good as they practiced at a nearby training venue under the watchful eyes of their coaches.

Yupun and Nimali hard at practice for first round heats

Nimali Liyanaarachchi

Coached by Italian Claudio Licciardello, Abeykoon will be the first Sri Lankan men’s sprinter to represent the county at Olympic Games in 25 years. Since Chinthaka de Zoysa represented Sri Lanka at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, this is the first time that a men’s athlete is competing at the highest level.

Abeykoon has done a career best 10.15 seconds in his 100m dash this season. He did 10.09 seconds in another meet, one week after that, but it is not eligible for a record as the wind speed is supporting beyond approved level.

The Lankan lad has been shaping well this season and is determined to make his presence felt. Liyanaarachchi had another light workout today under her coach Sujith Lilantha Abeysekera as she prepares for Friday’s 800m first round heat.

“I’m very excited to be on Sri Lanka’s storyboard for Tokyo. This is indeed a great honour and privilege. I want to do my best for Sri Lanka,” Liyanaraachchi said today.

Tropical storm forecast

The weather patterns now experienced in the Japanese capital took a new turn today as a tropical storm is forecast by the met department. However, the Olympics Games organisers say it is unlikely to cause much disruption to the 207-nation Games.

Rowing and archery events had already been moved out while the surfing finals have been brought forward. Unless the weather forecast changes, there are no plans to move any other events by the organizing committee.

The organizers said the people shouldn’t be too worried but urged them to maintain precautions.

Originally, a typhoon had been forecast, but the storm has subsequently been downgraded.

“We will make a last big push to remind people and to get them to do their duty. If we find people who are breaking the rules, we will talk to them and ask them to abide by the rules,” International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said.

Shock gold for American Jacoby

Meanwhile, the USA’s Lydia Jacoby has won a shock gold medal in the women’s 100m breaststroke final at only 17 years old. The swimmer became the first Alaskan swimmer ever to win an Olympic swimming gold medal, as she pushed South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker to the silver medal and pre-event favourite Lilly King – the Rio 2016 Olympic champion – to the title.

Jacoby, whose parents are both boat captains, learnt to swim because her mother and father wanted her to be safe in the water. Now that decision has paid off in unimaginable ways, as she takes home the Olympic title.

Jacoby’s time of 1:04.95 was marginally slower than Schoenmaker’s Olympic record of 1:04.82, set two days ago in the semi-final. But when it mattered, Jacoby showed nerves of steel to win a historic – and unexpected – gold in Tokyo.

Naomi Osaka eliminated

Yupun and Nimali hard at practice for first round heatsMarketa Vondrousova humbled Japanese star Naomi Osaka in straight sets to reach the quarter-finals of the women’s singles at Tokyo 2020. The 2019 French Open runner-up won 6-1 6-4 in an hour and eight minutes and will now face either Spain’s Paula Badosa or Nadia Podoroska of Argentina.

With heavy rain suspending play on the outside courts, the roof was in operation on Centre Court at Ariake Tennis Park. Osaka’s radar was awry at the start with the Czech pouncing on her second serve and breaking in the opening game in the first meeting between the pair.

Osaka, the home favourite, had two points to break straight back but Vondrousova saved them both, the second with an ace, before going into a 2-0 lead. A couple of superb backhands saw the world number 42 into a 3-0 lead after just nine minutes which quickly became 4-0 with Osaka eating the humble pie to get to grips with her opponent’s lefty serve.

Osaka saved three break points before finally getting on the board, but Vondrousova did manage to break for a third time to take the first set 6-1 in just 24 minutes.

The Japanese star quickly rediscovered the accuracy which had deserted her in the first set, finding the lines regularly as she broke Vondrousova at the start of the second.

The second serve remained vulnerable and a double fault handed back the break at the end of a seven-minute long fourth game to make it two-all. Vondrousova later saved two break points with two trademark drop shots and then led 5-4 to leave Osaka serving to stay in the tournament.

The Czech had two match points, but Osaka, the four-time Grand Slam winner, saved the first with a crunching forehand winner before Vondrousova netted a backhand. She soon had a third chance to complete victory.

Thus, Osaka went wide with a backhand to end her hopes of a gold medal before home supporters.

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