By Susil Premalal
Sri Lanka Athletic (SLA) President Maj. Gen. (Rtd.) Palitha Fernando expects seven athletes to achieve the qualifying standards to participate in the World Junior Athletic Championship to be held in Kenya.
The last date to achieve qualification for this meet, which is to be conducted by World Athletics from August 17 to 22 in Nairobi, is July 1.
Meanwhile, at the first selection trial meet held by SLA at the Sugathadasa Stadium for the Tokyo Olympics and World Juniors, Dilshi Kumarasinghe set a Sri Lanka record in the women’s 800 metres while Ovini Chandrasekera of Bishop’s College broke the shot putt junior national record.
Isuru Kaushalya Abeywardena of Ananda Sastralaya, Matugama and Shanika Lakshani of Holy Cross, Gampaha also achieved qualification for the World Juniors in the 400 and 800 metres respectively.
The SLA chief believes Sri Lanka’s junior athletes could achieve qualification for the world event in the boys’ triple jump and long jump events and the girls’ shot putt.
He said it was too early to say whether Sri Lanka would win medals or not at the World Junior Championships but he was confident they could at least make it to the final eight of each event.
Meanwhile, the SLA president said five or six athletes are close to achieving qualification for the Olympics. They are in the 3000m steeplechase (women), 800m (women), 200m (men) and 4x400m relay (men).
A.S.M. Safan and Kalinga Kumarage clocking 20 seconds in the men’s 200m is a good sign, according to coaches.
Since both Junior and Senior National Athletic Championships will be held prior to the Olympics and World Juniors, the SLA chief hopes more Sri Lankans would qualify for these international events.