A = AFP NEWS ITEM, 4 October 2023
Colombo (AFP) – Teenager Tharushi Karunarathna, Sri Lanka’s only gold medallist so far at the Hangzhou Asian Games, received a congratulatory telephone call from the country’s president and cash from the cricket board.
After the 18-year-old won the women’s 800m on Wednesday in Hangzhou, President Ranil Wickremesinghe telephoned the runner to convey the nation’s gratitude. “President Wickremesinghe expressed the pride felt by the nation for her extraordinary success on the international stage and conveyed his best wishes for her future endeavours in sports,” his office said in a statement.
Sri Lanka’s cricket board, the richest sporting body in the country, said it was gifting her 10 million rupees ($31,000).
Karunarathna’s gold was Sri Lanka’s first in athletics at the Asian Games since 2002, when they won two.
B = Newswire Item, 4 October 2023 ….. https://www.newswire.lk/2023/10/04/three-medals-for-sri-lanka-today-in-asian-games/
Sri Lanka has won one Gold medal and two bronze medals in Asian Games Athletics events today.
- Tharushi Karunarathna won the Gold medal in the women’s 800m event (2.03.20)
- Bronze in the Men’s 4x400m with a time of 3:02.55 (NR).
- Bronze in the Women’s 4x400m with a time of 3:30.88
C: Reemus Fernando: “Tharushi basks in Asian Games Glory,” https://island.lk/tharushi-basks-in-asian-games-glory/
From athletics administrators to so-called track and field experts who have been criticizing schools’ coaches for ruining the careers of budding athletes and have been placing the blame for the medal drought at international level on schools’ coaches during the last couple of decades. But finally, it was a schoolgirl trained by a schools coach who ended the decades long gold medal drought at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China yesterday.
Ratnayake Central, Walala prodigy Tharushi Karunaratne beat the experienced Chinese Olympian Wang Chunyu in the home straight in the women’s 800 metres final to deliver Sri Lanka’s first Asian Games gold medal in 21 years. In a tactically slow race Karunaratne sprinted in the last 60 metres to overtake the Chinese duo and etched her name in gold before returning in less than 50 minutes to anchor the women’s 4×400 metres team to bronze.
The athlete trained by Susantha Fernando clocked 2:03.20 seconds to win her third gold medal in the two lap race at Asian level this year. She commenced the gold medal hunt with the Asian Junior Championship gold and followed that up at the Asian Championship before beating a strong field inclusive of an Olympic finalist in Hangzhou yesterday.
She became the first Sri Lankan schoolgirl since Damayanthi Dharsha (1994) to win a medal at the Asian Games. The 18-year-old who was once refused entry to Digana Stadium for not paying entry fees for training is now among a selected number of Sri Lankans to have won gold medals at Asian Games. She is the seventh Sri Lankan to have won an individual gold medal at the Asian Games and only the third woman behind Susanthika Jayasinghe and Damayanthi Dharsha to have accomplished such a task.
Sri Lanka won a total of three medals yesterday and concluded the track and field campaign with four medals, the highest number since winning three golds and two bronzes in 1998.
Tharushi also became the first athlete from Sri Lanka to win a medal in the 800 metres at these Games. Incidentally, 4×400 metres medal too was the country’s first in the Games history.
Sri Lanka were uncertain about fielding a women’s 4×400 metres team but the team’s success at the recent Asian Athletics Championships fueled new hopes forcing authorities to make late requests to field a team.
The team comprising of Nadeesha Ramanayake, Jayeshi Uththara, Lakshima Mendis and Tharushi did not disappoint as they established a new Sri Lanka record in winning the bronze in a time of 3:30.88 seconds. Tharushi played a crucial role in winning the medal after receiving the baton in the fourth position. She pipped the Vietnam team to the fourth place with a stunning final lap clocked at 51.06 seconds.
The men’s 4×400 metres relay team anchored by Kalinga Kumarage did well to secure the third place behind India and Qatar. Two days on from missing the mixed relay silver medal for an infringement of a lane rule Aruna Dharshana and Kumarage did their part together with Pabasara Niku and Rajitha Rajakaruna to return a time of 3:02.55 seconds. India won the gold in a time of 3:01.58 seconds, while Qatar returned a time of 3:02.05 seconds.
It was the first time since 2006 that the country won a medal in the men’s 4×400 metres relay, a discipline Sri Lanka had medal success on three previous occasions.
The track and field team finished with one gold, one silver and two bronzes. The silver medal was won by Dilhani Lekamge on Tuesday. She threw the javelin to a distance of 61.57 metres to become the first Sri Lankan thrower to win a medal at Asian Games.
On a day where the Sri Lanka’s cricket team were beaten by Afghanistan in the quarter-finals, the track and field athletes who persevere thanks largely to the support they gain from the tri forces have kept the country’s flag flying high in Hangzhou.