By Susil Premalal
Shanika Lakshani, a rising 18-year-old athlete from Holy Cross College Gampaha, shattered a 35-year-old junior national record in the women’s 1500 metre event on the final day of the 98th National Athletic Championship at the Sugathadasa Stadium yesterday.
Competing against national and international stars, the teenager finished in fourth place clocking an impressive time of 4 minutes 33.40 seconds, improving on the time of 4:35.70 set by Sriyani Dhammika Menike at the Junior Nationals in 1985.
Gayanthika Abeyratne clinched the National title clocking 4:17.58 followed by Nilani Rathnayaka (4:21.28) and Nimali Liyanarachchi (4:28.13). Gayanthika, Nilani and Nimali have won medals at South Asian and Asian competitions.
Sri Lanka Athletics Recorder Saman Kumara Gunawardena confirmed that Shanika Lakshani’s performance was one of the best in the 1500 metre event.
There were no Sri Lanka records in the last two days of the competition.
However, a significant feature during the championship was the defeat of some elite and national pool athletes.
The reigning national champions in the 1500 men Hemantha Kumara, Ishara Sandaruwan (pole vault) and Sreshan Dhananjaya (triple jump) were some of the national poolists who failed to win their events.
Meanwhile, according to the qualifying standards set by Sri Lanka Athletics, 20 have qualified to be in the Elite pool and 17 in the national pool.