Move to strike out substandard athletes in major shake-up | Sunday Observer

Move to strike out substandard athletes in major shake-up

The Athletic Association of Sri Lanka (AASL) has drawn up plans to conduct the 98th National Athletic Championship at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium in Diyagama in December with only the top ranked athletes as the qualification time frame to qualify for the Olympic Games also starts from the same month.

Athletes who are in line for qualification are already going through training under national coach YK Kularatne.

The AASL also plans to conduct trials for junior and senior athletes in October in preparation for the 24th Asian Athletic Championship to be held in Hangzhou, China from May 20 to 23 and the 4th Asian Junior U-18 meet to be held in Kuwait from March 11 to 14 next year.

The postponed Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 23, 2021 to August 8 and the AASL is considering inviting only the top eight ranked athletes for each event for the 98th National Athletic Championship with the aim of improving the quality of events and reduce the excess entries in other events.

Since Olympic qualification has been extended from December 31 to June 2021, Sri Lanka’s National Athletic Championship will serve as a selection trial for international competitions.

This will be the first time that the Nationals, which has been previously open to all, will be conducted for only selected athletes. In future, the Nationals will feature only the finalists with preliminary rounds being held prior.

Meanwhile the newly introduced World Ranking system for athletics has created confusion among the athletic fraternity in Sri Lanka with some media reporting that double South Asian Games Gold medal winner Nilani Ratnayake had qualified for the postponed 2020 Olympic Games.

A senior official of the AASL said that though Ratnayake is within the world top 45 eligible to compete at the Olympics as of now, those rankings are set to change drastically once competitions start.

She now has a long road ahead to secure a qualification spot, which will require her to compete in several championships which are ranked high in world athletics competitions.

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