Defending 800m Gold medalist Nimali Liyanarachchi will lead the team of 15 athletes for the 23rd Asian Athletics Championship to be held from 21-24 April in Doha, Qatar.
Nimali, the middle distance champion, won a Bronze medal at the 2015 edition before turning it into Gold at the 2017 edition. Following a disappointing year in 2018, the 29-year-old returned to her usual best, clocking two sub 2 minutes 03 seconds races to win both National trials. She is now on top of the Asian 800m female list and the favourite to win the Gold medal again.
In 2017, Nimali finished second in the 800m due to India’s Archana Adav obstructing her throughout the race, but following a written protest from Team Manager Lal Chandrakumara, which was successful, Nimali was awarded the Gold medal by the judges while Archana Adav was disqualified. This time around it is hoped Nimali would not allow such an incident to take place, as she is looking for a clear cut win leading from the front.
"I am honoured to lead this team and we are hopeful of bringing few medals this time too. It will not be the same what is was two years ago but personally i want to defend my Gold and the rest of the members will do their best who did really well at the trials." said Nimali
Meanwhile, 800m Silver medalist of the 2017 edition Gayanthika Abeyrathne, too, is included in the team and set to offer stiff competition to Nimali for top honours, as the Sri Lanka duo are set for a 1-2 finish.
The team includes the likes of 100m South Asian record holder Himasha Eshan, Triple Jump National record holder Greshan Dhananjaya and two Long Jumpers, Prasad Wimalaisiri and Danushka Sandaruwan, who are all within medal range.
After a lapse of six years, Sri Lanka will field a 4x400m Women’s Relay team at the championship, which has an outside chance for a medal.
Team Sri Lanka
Himasha Eashan (100m), Prasad Wimalasiri (Long Jump), Danushka Sandaruwan (Long Jump), Greshan Dhananjaya (Triple Jump), Sumedha Ranasinghe (Javelin Throw), Ajith Premakumara (400m), Rusiru Chathuranga (800m), Hemantha Kumara (1500m)
Nimali Liyanarachchi (800m, 4x400m), Gayanthika Abeyrathne (800m), Nilani Rathnayaka (3000m St.Ch.), Vidusha Lakshani (Triple Jump), Nadeesha Ramanayaka (400m, 4x400m), Dilshi Kumarasinghe (4x400m), Upamalika Rathnakumari (4x400m)
Lal Chandrakumara (Manager), Irangani Rupasinghe (Lady Chaperone), Sajith Jayalal (Coach), Chaminda Perera (Coach), Sanka Ranasinghe (Physiotherapist), Lal Ekanayaka (Doctor)