Estelle Vasudevan, in Papare, 3 August 2022, where the title differs
Sprinter Yupun Abeykoon ended more than two decades of a wait to witness a track and field medal for Sri Lanka at the Commonwealth Games as he clocked 10.14 seconds to clinch bronze in the men’s 100 metres final in Birmingham on Wednesday. It was the first track and field medal at the Commonwealth Games for Sri Lanka since Sugath Thilakaratne (bronze) and Sriyani Kulawansa (silver) won medals at the Kula Lumpur Games in 1998. Olympic medallist, Susanthika Jayasinghe’s highest achievement at the Games was a fourth-place finish.
In a competition where the South African defending champion Akani Simbine (silver 10.13) was beaten by Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala for gold (10.02), Abeykoon edged out Ghana’s Benjamin Azamati (10.16) to share the podium with them. He became Sri Lanka’s first ever medallist in 100 metres at these Games.
Jeremiah Azu of Wales (10.19), Rohan Browning of Australia (10.20) and Cameroon’s Emmanuel Eseme (10.24) finished behind the Sri Lankan.After reaching the semi-finals with the fastest first round (10.06 secs) performance in the history of the Games, the 27-year-old clocked 10.20 seconds in the semi-final on Wednesday to accomplish his preseason target.He had set winning an Asian Games medal and featuring in the Commonwealth Games final among his targets for this season.
With his bronze medal victory Abeykoon became the fourth Sri Lankan track and field medallist at the Commonwealth Games. Olympic medallist Duncan White (440 yards hurdles), Sriyani Kulawansa (100 metres hurdles) and Sugath Thilakaratne (400m) are the only other athletes to have won track and field medals at these games.
The Italy-based sprinter is in red hot form this season after becoming the first South Asian sprinter to run the 100 metres under 10 seconds (9.96 secs) in early July. His national record mark of 9.96 seconds which he established last month is the fastest performance by an Asian this year, though the World Athletics rankings places him second in Asia behind Abdul Hakim Sani Brown of Japan.
The former Joseph Vaz College, Wennappuwa athlete has constantly clocked sub 10.20 seconds this season, a performance none of the former national record holders could achieve. On an eventful day, Para-athlete H.G. Palitha won the silver medal in the F42 discus throw event with a throw of 44.20 metres in his fifth attempt. His previous throws were read at 39.54, 41.48, 41.88 and 43.13 metres.
In the men’s 400 metres, Kalinga Kumarage secured a semi-final spot with a fourth-place finish in heat one. Kumarage’s finishing time of 46.53 seconds was the 17th fastest time in a field of nearly 50 sprinters. He is scheduled to compete in the third semi-final of the men’s 400 metres today. Long jumper Sarangi Silva and steeplechase athlete Nilani Ratnayake are the others competing in their events today.
The performances of track and field athletes were a consolation after the Sri Lankan contingent in Birmingham attracted attention for the wrong reasons. The news of a Sri Lankan wrestler, a judoka and the judo manager disappearing from the games village was reported by international media.