COVID-19 destroyed another year of world’s sport but there were few moments that Sri Lankan sports dominated the world stage. Most of the sporting events were cancelled or postponed due to different variants of the pandemic but few events were on the world arena according to the plan.
Most prestigious Olympics were held in Tokyo Japan in July, which were postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19. There were nine athletes representing Sri Lanka for seven events. Two athletes each for track events and swimming and one each for Badminton, Equestrian Jumping for the first time, Artistic gymnastics, Judo, and Shooting. Unfortunately, Sri Lankan athletes failed to progress for the medals and the country won their last medal way back in 2000 in Sydney when sprinter Susanthika Jayasinghe secured a Silver medal for women 200m.
However, Sri Lankan Paralympians made the country proud by winning the first ever Gold medal in history and a Bronze medal in Japan. Dinesh Priyantha Herath won Sri Lanka’s first Paralympic gold medal in the men’s F46 javelin throw with a world record of 67.79 metres. Dulan Kodithuwakku made it to the podium on the same day as his compatriot as he secured the bronze medal in the men’s F64 javelin throw.
Sri Lankan sprinter Yupun Abeykoon sets a new South Asian and Sri Lankan record in Men’s 100m with a record of 10.15sec at the Meeting di Savona Grand fix 2021 finals in Italy.
It was a bad year for Sri Lanka Cricket overall, the country’s most famous game for any generation. Sri Lanka lost Test series to South Africa and England in the beginning of the year. Then they drew the Test series against West Indies in March and won 1-0 Test series against Bangladesh in April. The new look Sri Lankans lost ODI Series to England and India but managed to beat South Africa by 2-1 in July. Sri Lanka’s T20 World cup morale was boosted when they beat India 2-1 in T20s at the end of July. The young Sri Lankans played well in the T20 World cup in Dubai by winning five matches out of 8 but failed to progress to the knockout stage. Innovative batsman Charith Asalanka scored 231 runs and finished 5th in the overall batting ranking while the Sri Lankan top spinner Wanindu Hasaranga was the most wicket taker in the tournament bagging 16 wickets. After Nuwan Kulasekara was propelled to the No 1 spot in the ICC ODI ranking for bowlers in 2008, Wanindu Hasaranga moved to the No 1 spot for the T20 ranking for the bowlers in 2021.
Air Force swimmer Roshan Abeysundara set a new Asian record by swimming across Palk Strait from Talaimannar to Dhanushkodi and back.
In May rising racing star Yevan Ranasinghe David became the first Sri Lankan to win a European Heat Karting race in Genk.
Sri Lanka Air Force female boxer Gayani Kaluarachchi has won the Bronze medal in 75kg category at 58th World Military boxing championship in Russia to become the first women to make it to the podium. Lance Corporal Nuwan of SL Army secured a Bronze under men’s 49kg category.
Sri Lankan wheelchair Tennis team finished sixth place in the world cup campaign by reaching the knockout stage.
Both Men and Women Rugby teams participated in the Dialog Asian Rugby sevens in Dubai. Men and Women lost to UAE and Thailand respectively in the Plate finals.
Four nations Prime minister’s cup Football was held in Sri Lanka with Seychelles, Bangladesh, and Maldives. Sri Lanka lost to Seychelles in the finals.
Sri Lankan spikers were crowned Champions of the Asian Central Zone Men’s Volleyball cup beating host nation Bangladesh in Dhaka. Meanwhile, the women have won third place beating Kyrgyzstan.
Meanwhile, for the 1st time in history, representing the US Women’s artistic gymnastics team Tiana Sumanasekara secured gold at the Junior Pan American Games 2021. Also, 22 year old Srimali Samarakoon won gold at the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship in Uzbekistan. Finally, Sri Lankan Youths marked their presence high at Asia Youth Para games by winning 12 medals. We hope to see more Sri Lankans reach amazing heights in sports in the global arena in 2022 to make the motherland proud.
By Nilanga Daldeniya – Wellington