Yupun, Palitha bring honours for country at Commonwealth Games
Olympian Yupun Abeykoon and Paralympian Palitha Bandara made Sri Lanka athletics proud on a star-studded night on Wednesday with their heroic performances on the track and field at the magnificent Alexander Stadium in Birmingham on day six of the XXII Commonwealth Games.
Italy-based 27-year-old Abeykoon defied all expectations win a historic bronze medal in the men’s 100m final clocking 10.14 seconds behind Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala (10.02) and South Africa’s Akani Simbine (10.13).
Army Corporal Palitha Bandara (30) walked the talk to become the first para-athlete to win a medal in the Commonwealth Games when he claimed silver in the men’s Discus F42-44/61-64 event throwing a distance of 44.20 metres. Welshmen Aled Davies (F42 51.29m) and Harrison Walsh(F44 54.76m) claimed the gold and bronze respectively.
In a magnanimous gesture, Bandara rushed to congratulate Abeykoon soon after his finished in third position in the 100m final. “All of Sri Lanka had a lot of hopes on Yupun. At that moment as a Sri Lankan I felt very proud more than my event when Yupun won,” said Bandara.
Abeykoon said his medal was a little gift from him to the people of Sri Lanka who had rooted for him all the way. “I want to thank everyone for supporting me all the way. For everyone who watched me running and everyone in Sri Lanka, this is a little gift,” said Abeykoon who could not believe his eyes when he finished third in the final.
“My team and I had already achieved the target when we entered the semifinals,” said Abeykoon who was the fastest in the heats clocking 10.02 seconds before finishing fourth in the third semifinals barely advancing to the final as one of the fastest qualifiers returning a time of 10.20.
“My coach told me to relax during the finals because we had already achieved our goal,” said Abeykoon, who considers the medal a bonus.
He expressed his eternal gratitude to the people of Sri Lanka who blessed him every step of the way.
“Lot of people were looking forward to it. They believed in me. I want to thank everyone for supporting me all the way. For everyone who watched me running and everyone in Sri Lanka, this is a little gift,” he reiterated.
On becoming the first South Asian athlete to run a sub-10 of 9.96, Abeykoon said: “I planned three years for it. I told you earlier, I have achieved my target. Everything else is a bonus. Medal is also a bonus. I have achieved my target already,” he said basking in the glory.