“Race the Pearl” to Take Flight This Week!

The fifth iteration of “Race the Pearl,” a 24-hour race traverses from Point Pedro to Dondra Head, will take off on November 5, 2022. Six international cyclists will lead the challenge of covering the 600-kilometer distance in “Race the Pearl.” At the same time, over 50 other participants will join either as teams and enter, relay-style, or as individual cyclists.

Spinner Cycling, the organizing and technical partner of Ironman 70.3 Colombo and “Around the Pearl in 10 Days,” a related cycling event, launches “Race the Pearl,” endorsed by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, intending to promote the #VisitSriLanka campaign through cycling.

Remarkably, “Race the Pearl” has been approved as a qualifying event for the upcoming RAAM (Race Across America), a renowned ultra-distance road cycling race that spans between the west coast and the east coast of the USA for a total distance of over 4,800 kilometers. This is also declared as one of the qualifying events for RAAM. This time, the six leading riders—one from the United States, two from Sri Lanka, and three from Great Britain—will bike around the clock, intending to rack up RAAM qualification points.

The route will take five phases. While riding through the gales of Elephant Pass, the ascent of Laggala, and the likely elephant encounters while cycling in the dark, this will be full of unforgettable experiences for all riders.

The organizers will issue all registered participants a “Visit Sri Lanka-White Rider Jersey” before the race. All participants who successfully cross the finish line within 24 hours will secure a Medal of Grit, and those who finish the race within the 30-hour cutoff period will acquire a Finisher T-shirt. Those who beat the race times in the 24-hour solo and 24-hour team races will be rewarded with the prestigious Pearl Jersey, which is the pinnacle of achievement in this event.

This will be the first step in expanding the “Race Vacation” sector to promote “cycling tourism” in Sri Lanka. The Ironman 70.3 franchise had a positive economic effect of USD 3 million within a week of establishing the benchmark for sports tourism. Indirectly, it is also expected to significantly benefit the micro- and SME sectors of Sri Lanka.

SLF Int, USA Outstanding Achievement By A Young Professional Hiruni Wijerathna for Her Excellence as the Fastest South Asian Marathoner and Champion in Long Distance Running

Hiruni Wijeratha, South Asia’s fastest female marathoner, a 29 year old, Sri Lankan-American Champion, a long distance running athlete who has kept the Lion Flag flying high victoriously before the world many times.

Born in Kirulapone, Sri Lanka, Hiruni attended St. Bridget’s Convent, where she began her journey as an athlete. Even though her athlete career blossomed in the U.S, her gleaming desire was to compete as a Sri Lankan athlete. In order to represent the Sri Lankan Sports Selection Committee, she ran her first Marathon in which she shattered the previous national records. Today, she is the South Asia’s Fastest Female Marathoner. She is also the first Sri Lankan to qualify for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Athletic Championship.

Marathoner Hiruni Wijayaratne clocked 2 hours 43 minutes and 31 seconds in the Eugene Marathon when she crossed the finish line as first female and 11th overall in the 2017 edition of the Marathon. Doing so, Hiruni Achieved the qualification standards for the IAAF World Championship Marathon which is 2:45.00 .She was the first and only female athlete to qualify for the world championship in 2019 from Sri Lanka. Hiruni who lives in USA, moved thereafter spending first nine years of her life in Sri Lanka. She has been running Marathon for several years. Hiruni is now the fastest female marathoner in Sri Lanka as well as in South Asia. She holds these both records with the timing of 2:34:10.

Hiruni Wijayaratne, who currently takes credit for multiple National records in the long distance and marathon form of running, road and track, is a professional athlete residing in the USA. However, she fully represents Sri Lanka in all professional meets and in such an event, Wijayaratne has managed to achieve another milestone in her career.

Although there are no competition or tracked records kept on  Road Running competitions, the new timings recorded by Hiruni will renew her Personal Best Timings as well as challenge a track record that has stood for 16 years.

Hiruni is a fierce competitor. She holds 10 National Records for Sri Lanka, a marathon personal best of 2:36, and a passion for chasing her goals and helping others do the same. It doesn’t stop there, Hiruni brings her game to the office too, where she has taken over as the Business Development and Sales Lead, but she does so much more than that.

Hiruni is also one of the best world-class coaches, and enjoys answering questions and sharing her experience as both coach and athlete to inspire others to achieve their dreams.

SLF Int, USA 2022 Rising Star Award Winner Mathew Abeysinghe “Swimming Star” For his Excellence as the Greatest Swimmer and the most Accomplished Athlete

Matthew Duncan Abeysinghe, born 19 March 1996 is a competitive swimmer who has represented Sri Lanka at numerous international competitions. Abeysinghe trained under his coach and father, Manoj Abeysinghe, with Killer Whale Aquatics, until his departure for higher education, where he resumed his training at Ohio State University in the US. Abeysinghe is regarded as the greatest swimmer and one of the most accomplished athletes Sri Lanka has ever produced.

Abeysinghe started swimming when he was three years old alongside his older brother, Andrew. He has been quoted, saying he started swimming merely for water safety, not to compete. Over the course of his career, Abeysinghe has achieved numerous accolades, including; international medals, national records, national championships, and several national awards. Abeysinghe is considered the greatest athlete in South Asian Games history. He is also the most decorated; winning a total of 14 gold medals, two silver medals, and one bronze medal. In Freestyle, his most proficient stroke, Abeysinghe holds all of the national records except for the 200m Freestyle, which belongs to his younger brother, Kyle. He also holds the South Asian record in the 100m and 200m Freestyle events.

Abeysinghe’s first time representing Sri Lanka was at 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. There he broke the national record in the 400m Freestyle, previously held by Julian Bolling and became the youngest male swimmer to be selected to the national team. Later on that year, he competed at the 2010 FINA World Swimming Championships in Dubai. In 2011, Abeysinghe represented Sri Lanka three times; at the 2011 World Aquatics Championships, the 2011 Youth Commonwealth Games, in the Isle of Man, making it to the finals of the 400m Freestyle, and Asian Age Group Swimming Championships, where he won the silver medal in 100m Freestyle. In 2012 Abeysinghe competed at the 2012 FINA World Swimming Championships in Istanbul, Turkey. The next year, Abeysinghe competed at the 2013 Asian Youth Games, where he won the bronze medal in the 100m Freestyle, becoming the first Sri Lankan to win a medal at an Asian Games event.

In 2014, at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics, Abeysinghe competed in the 100m Freestyle. After setting a national record in prelims, he advanced to the semi-final, where he raced amongst the likes of future Olympians; Duncan Scott and Kyle Chalmers.

Later on, he represented Sri Lanka at the 2014 FINA World Swimming Championships in Doha, Qatar. He also competed in the 2014 Asian Indoor Athletics Championships in Seoul, Korea. In 2015, Abeysinghe competed at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia. Early on in 2016, Abeysinghe was struggling to reach the Olympic qualifying time in the 100m freestyle. Finally, in Hong Kong, Abeysinghe was able to achieve the “B” qualifying time, becoming the first and only Sri Lankan swimmer, and one of few athletes, to achieve this feat up to that point (his younger brother, Kyle, managed to surpass this mark later on). Abeysinghe competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, alongside fellow swimming star, Kimiko Raheem. He competed in the 100m Freestyle, with a time of 50.96, slower than he had previously swum in Hong Kong. He placed third in his heat.

In early 2017, Abeysinghe moved to the US to attend Ohio State University. There he resumed training, after a prolonged leg injury in late 2016. At the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, Abeysinghe was a part of the 4×100 Freestyle relay for Sri Lanka. Alongside him was his younger brother Kyle, Akalanka Pieris and Cherantha De Silva. Together, they became the first Sri Lankan team to make finals at the Commonwealth Games. At the Games, he also competed in the 50m and 100m Freestyle, qualifying for the semi-final in the latter. There he competed against the likes of Cameron McEvoy, Chad Le Clos, and Benjamin Proud. He also became the first Sri Lankan to break the “50-second” barrier.

Matthew continued his glory at the South Asian platform winning 7 gold and silver in the 2019 South Asian Games held in Kathmandu Nepal.

Brilliant Sri Lanka clinch Asia Cup 2022 title

The perfect start for Pakistan

Winning the toss, Pakistan came out all guns blazing in the final in Dubai. Naseem Shah got the ball rolling by bowling a beauty to dismiss Kusal Mendis for a duck. Pathum Nissanka also could not carry on his brilliant run, with Haris Rauf getting the better of him on 8. Rauf would then bowl a sizzler to send Danushka Gunathilaka packing for 1.

If Sri Lanka believed they would get a reprieve, the spinners would then chip in with a couple of wickets for Pakistan. Iftikhar Ahmed got the wicket of Dhananjaya de Silva for 28, who up to that point was looking in good nick. Skipper Dasun Shanaka also couldn’t contribute much, with Shadab Khan bowling him for 2.

At the halfway mark, Pakistan were well and truly on top.

Rajapaksa, Hasaranga mount Sri Lanka’s fightback

Sri Lanka would then launch a brilliant counter of their own, with Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Wanindu Hasaranga leading the charge. The pair put on a partnership of 58 runs, playing some incredible shots against a high-quality bowling attack. Their stand would come off only 36 deliveries, getting Sri Lanka well and truly back in the game.

Hasaranga would be dismissed by Rauf, who had his third scalp for 36, but it was a job done well. Rajapaksa would then unleash carnage, bringing up his half-century while upping the ante. Chamika Karunaratne gave him brilliant support from the other end, rotating the strike as the pair put up a stand of 54*. Rajapaksa would have some luck, being dropped a couple of times but he made full use of it.

Rajapaksa would end up with a knock of 71* off 45 deliveries, as Sri Lanka recovered from 58/5 to post a fighting total of 170/6 on the board.

A see-saw battle

It was not the perfect start for Sri Lanka as Dilshan Madhushanka bowled an 11-ball over, conceding 12. But Dasun Shanaka’s side kept their cool, tightening up the screws after that. The pressure yielded brilliant results as Pramod Madushan would get two wickets in two deliveries. Babar Azam would be his first scalp for 5 followed by Fakhar Zaman for a first-ball duck.

Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed would then pick up the mantle of rebuilding the Pakistan innings, as the match was on a knife’s edge at the halfway mark. With Pakistan’s score at 68/2, it was anyone’s contest to win.

Brilliant Sri Lanka clinch the title

Just when it was time for Pakistan to put the foot down on the accelerator, Sri Lanka bowled and fielded with excellence. They dried up the runs, increasing the pressure while upping the required run rate. This paid off with Iftikhar first perishing for 32, with Madushan getting his third scalp. Mohammad Nawaz too couldn’t deliver the big hits, falling for 6 against Karunaratne.

It was now up to Rizwan, who was the set batter to guide Pakistan home, as they needed 69 off 28 deliveries. After bringing up his half-century, Rizwan would be outfoxed by Hasaranga as Sri Lanka etched closer to a victory with the required run rate almost touching the 16-run mark. Hasaranga then dismissed Asif Ali for a first-ball duck and followed it up with Khushdil Shah for 2.

Pakistan would eventually run out of wickets, with Karunaratne getting the final scalp of Haris Rauf, as Sri Lanka won by 23 runs to win the Asia Cup 2022.

Sri Lanka wins Asian netball championship

While Sri Lanka goes through major political and economic crises, their sports teams are achieving considerable success. I wrote about the men’s win in the Asia Cup cricket tournament on Sunday. This news overshadowed that on the same day, their women’s team won the Asia Netball Championships, defeating Singapore 63-53 in the final.

Netball is a game played in over 80 countries, primarily by women. It is similar to basketball in that the they have a similar court and ball and hoops at each end where you score goals. It is different from basketball in that you cannot dribble or bounce the ball. The player in possession has to remain stationary, hence ball progression is achieved entirely by passing to team mates, which makes team work and accurate passing very important. It is not a game where one virtuoso player can carry the team. There are seven players on a side and physical contact between opposing players is minimal.

Players are assigned specific positions, which define their roles within the team and restrict their movement to certain areas of the court. During general play, a player with the ball can hold on to it for only three seconds before shooting for a goal or passing to another player. Unlike the men’s win which was a surprise and against the odds, the Sri Lankan women regularly field a formidable netball team and were defending the title they won before in 2018. They won every game leading up to the final, most quite easily, and Singapore lost only one game (and that too to Sri Lanka), so the two teams were worthy finalists.

You can see the last quarter of the final game between Sri Lanka and Singapore. (The commentators were blatantly supporting the Singapore side, which was odd for an international tournament. It is true that the tournament was held in Singapore which made them the home team but still, you expect commentators to at least try for a semblance of neutrality.)

Sri Lanka had a very tall player stationed near the opponent’s goal. When she got the ball, a basket was almost certain.

In professional basketball in the US, the final two minutes of playing time in a game are often interminably long, what with repeated time outs and fouls that stop the play clock. In netball, the game does not have so many stoppages and the last quarter of 15 minutes in the final took just 16 actual minutes, which makes the game much more entertaining to watch, for me at least.

Yupun and Palitha shine for Sri Lanka at Commonwealth Games 2022

Sri Lanka’s Yupun Abeykoon and Palitha Bandara secured medals in one night for Sri Lanka at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Yupun Abeykoon won bronze in the men’s 100 m finals at the Commonwealth Games 2022 clocking 10.14 seconds. Kenya won Gold and South Africa claimed silver.

Palitha Bandara won the silver medal in the Men’s F42-44/61-64 Discus Throw at the Commonwealth Games 2022 recording a distance of 44.20 m.

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Sri Lanka women win 100m relay silver in India

COLOMBO (News 1st); The Sri Lanka Women’s 100m relay team sprinted their way to silver at the 61st Indian Interstate Athletics Championship 2022 on Sunday (12), in Chennai.

The Sri Lankan team of Amasha de Silva, Shelinda Jansen, Medhani Jayamanne and Lakshika Sugandhi clocked 45.35 seconds to win silver in 100 relay event.

The Indian team cruised to Gold clocking of 43.95 second while the team from the Indian state of Kerala came in third.

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Shonali following in the footsteps of her legendary grandmother

Sophia Dharmasena an old girl of Government Central College Minuwangoda was a shining star in six sports such as Netball, Volleyball, Basketball, Badminton, Football and Athletics.

She had the honour of representing the Sri-Lanka Netball team for the first ever inaugural World tournament in 1963 , which was staged in England and they were victorious against Northern Ireland and Wales. She was appointed as the captain of the Netball team in 1970 and the volleyball team in 1973 and had the distinction of becoming a double international

Sophia Dharmasena’s two sons Kishan and Suranjith are famous cricketers, who played for Thurstan College and division one club cricket for NCC and Tamil Union respectively and presently participates in the ongoing Masters 50 plus tournaments.

Suranjith represented the Sri-Lanka Schools under 19 team captained by Aravinda de Silva on the tour of Australia in 1984 and also the Masters World Cup tournament held in South Africa two years back.

Kishan’s daughter, 17 year old Shonali, a student of Holy Family Convent Bambalapitiya has proved her talents in Basketball and has been chosen for the Sri-Lanka Basketball pool for the Commonwealth Games this year. Last year she was selected to represent the 3 X 3 Sri-Lanka team for the FIBA under 18 World championship held in Hungary.

Shonali is also the Vice Captain of the under 20 champion team, which took part in the division one All Island tournament and represented HFC Blues in the 53rd Senior Nationals where they emerged as runner up. Sophia Dharmasena has to be a proud Mother and grandmother, as this is another unique feat created by this family, representing Sri-Lanka in different fields of sports from three generations.

Yupun Abeykoon breaks Sri Lankan & South Asian records in Italy

Sri Lanka’s Yupun Abeykoon set a new Sri Lankan & South Asian Record in the 200 M Men’s Sprint at the Castiglione International Meeting in Grosseto, Italy by clocking a time of 20.37 seconds.

He broke the Sri Lanka record of 20.68 seconds set by Vinoj Suranjaya de Silva in 2018.

He also broke the South Asian record of 20.52 seconds set by India’s Amlan Borgohain in April 2022.

Abeykoon posted the following on Facebook following the win.

60 m – 6.59 sec – South Asian Record
100 m – 10.15 sec – South Asian Record
150 m – 15.16 sec – Asian Record
200 m – 20.37 sec -South Asian Record

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Yupun Abeykoon sets new Asian record

Sri Lanka’s Yupun Abeykoon has set a new Asian record in the 150 meters men’s event at an athletic meet held in Italy.

The sprinter clocked a time of 15.16 seconds to finish first place in the race and in the process surpassed the existing Asian record in the event.

The previous record of 15.35 seconds had been set by Japan’s Yoshihide Kiryu in 2017.

Abeykoon set the new record during yesterday’s race in the Perseo Trophy, which was held at the Stadio Raul Guidobaldi in Rieti, Italy.

Italy’s Chituru Ali was second in the race with a performance of 15.17 while another Italian athlete, Mattia Furlani came in third with a timing of 15.76 seconds.

Sri Lanka’s Vinura Lakmal had also participated in the same event and managed to finish seventh with a timing of 16.83 seconds.

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