Tharushi Karunarathna’s achievement in winning the 800M gold at the Asian Games in China is a momentous event in Sri Lankan athletics. Her gold medal marks the country’s first gold in athletics at the Asian Games since 2002, and it is an incredible accomplishment for a young athlete. The fact that she clinched this gold medal with a time of 2:03.20 seconds is a testament to her talent and dedication to her sport. This win is especially significant because it represents the first middle-distance medal for Sri Lanka in the women’s category in 52 years. The last time a Sri Lankan woman achieved such success was SLB Rosa’s double gold in 1970 at the Asian Games.
Her coach, Susantha Fernando, played a crucial role in planning her race strategy, focusing on both slow and fast races, which ultimately led to her gold medal. Tharushi’s intelligence and tactical approach to the 800M race were instrumental in her success, particularly in managing the first 400m effectively. Fernando’s hope for Tharushi to represent Sri Lanka in the Olympics shows the high regard in which she is held as an athlete. Even though she didn’t achieve direct Olympic qualification due to the pace of the race, her potential for the future is evident.
Tharushi is a proud product of Walala Central in Kandy and has a background as the daughter of a three-wheel driver, an unemployed mother and two siblings. Her achievements are not only a source of pride for her nation but also an inspiration to young athletes in Sri Lanka. It’s also noteworthy that she will be returning to school to prepare for her university entrance examination, which shows her commitment to education alongside her athletic pursuits.
Meanwhile, Nadeesha Dilhani Lekamge’s achievement in winning the Silver Medal in the Women’s Javelin Throw at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, is a significant milestone for Sri Lanka. Her throw of 61.57M, which is also her personal best and brought more glory to the country. India’s Annu Rani claimed the Gold Medal in the event, and Huihui Lyu of China won the Bronze.
Sri Lankan Women Cricketers destroyed England Women Cricketers on their home soil to register their first-ever T20 series win…..
After winning the first series against White Ferns in June, Sri Lankan women were onboarded to England with pride and confidence. According to the Sri Lanka Women’s coach Rumesh Ratnayake’s team’s T20I series triumph over England was “really huge” for cricket in the country. Sri Lankan Women Cricketers blew their hosts away by seven and eight wickets respectively to come back from 1-0 down and hand England their first T20I series defeat by a side other than Australia since 2010. Given that Sri Lanka is ranked six places lower than England and Pakistan two spots behind South Africa in the format, the results have fuelled hopes that the gap between the top-ranked nations and the rest can be closed. Ratnayake’s prediction that his side’s victory will make people sit up and take notice in Sri Lanka can only help the cause. “If I say it’s huge, it’s not good enough because it will be really huge,” he told after victory in the series decider in Derby, led by Captain Chamari Athapaththu’s 3 for 21 and 44 off 28.
Chamari Athapaththu had been instrumental in the win at Chelmsford also, her brutal half-century helping mow down another meagre target after England was bowled out inside 20 overs for the first of two successive games. Her scintillating form this year – she has two unbeaten centuries and four half-centuries across white-ball formats in 2023 – has only emphasised Athapaththu’s position as the lynchpin of her side, but Ratnayake was pleased that others had contributed to their latest victory too.
Kavisha Dilhari, the 22-year-old off-spinner matched Athapaththu’s five wickets for the series and was key to their latest victory with her variations in speed and tight lines, claiming 2 for 16. Seamer Udeshika Prabodhani also took 2 for 16 in Derby and, along with left-arm spinner Inoka Ranaweera and offspinner Inoshi Priyadharshani, rounded out the series’ top-five bowlers.
Indeed, the recent achievements of Sri Lankan women in various sports on the world stage are incredibly inspiring and a source of pride for the nation. These women have not only brought honour and recognition to Sri Lanka but have also served as role models for the next generation of athletes.
By Nilanga Daldeniya – Wellington