Thrower Dilhani Lekamge smashed her own national record as she ended country’s track and field medal drought at the Asian Games winning the silver medal in the women’s javelin throw in Hangzhou,
China yesterday (03).
The athlete trained by Pradeep Nishantha became the first Sri Lankan since 2006 to win a medal in track and field event at Asian Games as she hurled the javelin to a distance of 61.57 metres in her fourth attempt.
With that she broke her own national record and that mark briefly elevated her to the top position before she was overtaken by India’s Annu Rani whose throw of 62.92 metres found to be the best throw of the evening.
She became the first Sri Lankan woman to break the 61 metres barrier as she proved her coach Pradeep Nishantha’s predictions right.
“I am happy that she could end the country’s medal drought at these Games. The authorities did not believe that she could win a medal for Sri Lanka. That was why I was not selected to accompany her to Asian Games as coach,” a jubilant Pradeep Nishantha said in an interview with The Island.
“I am happy for her achievement. Everything has gone according to plan. National record was what we were targeting. I hope this will encourage others to take up this discipline,” Nishantha further said.
The 36-year-old is also the first Sri Lankan to win a medal in a throwing event at the quadrennial games and joins a selected number of Sri Lankan athletes to have won a medal in an individual event at Asian Games.
She becomes the 12th Sri Lankan athlete to win an individual medal of any colour in track and field at Asian Games.
Tharushi to fight for two medals
Sri Lanka’s track and field athletes shrugged off the disappointment surrounding the missed opportunity in the 4×400 metres mixed relay in the morning session as Ratnayake Central prodigy Tharushi Karunaratne, veteran runner Gayanthika Abeyratne and the men’s 4x400 metres relay team did well to advance to the finals of their respective events.
Sri Lanka’s mixed relay team were disqualified on Monday after finishing second due to a lane infringement.
The 800 metres specialist Karunaratne will vie for medals in two disciplines today after advancing to the 800 metres final as the second fastest of the three heats held yesterday.
Competing in heat three, which was found to be the fastest heat, Tharushi clocked 2:05.48 seconds to finish second behind China’s Wang Chunyu.
Veteran runner Gayanthika who finished the women’s 1500 metres just outside the podium earlier in the championship competed in the second heat and was placed third with a time of 2:07.17 seconds, which was enough to earn a place in the final.
The Sri Lankan duo who shared the gold and bronze in the 800 metres at the Asian Championships are among the favourites for the medals today.
It will be a busy day for Tharushi today as she is scheduled to anchor the women’s 4×400 metres final less than an hour after competing in the 800 metres final.
Sri Lanka rested their top two 400 metres sprinters for the men’s 4×400 metres heats where Dinuka Deshan, Pabasara Niku, Rajitha Rajakaruna and Pasindu Kodikara did well to secure the final spot finishing the heat in the second place behind Philippine.
Sri Lanka clocked 3:06.60 seconds. They were the leaders in the final lap before Philippine pipped them in the last few metres.
Kalinga Kumarage and Aruna Dharshana who featured in the mixed relay final are set to join Niku and Rajakaruna in the final today.