Heavy schedule for Sri Lankan athletes | Sunday Observer

Heavy schedule for Sri Lankan athletes

17 January, 2021
Hiruni Wijeyaratne
Hiruni Wijeyaratne

Sri Lankan athletes are in for a heavy schedule of events this year that will boost their rankings in World Athletics that may give them a chance to qualify for the Olympics.

Sri Lanka Athletics (SLA) is also in a hurry to conduct meets in quick succession without leaving room for an athlete to recover from tiredness and injury. It was only last month that they conducted their 98th Nationals and now they want to conduct their 99th Nationals by April before conducting trials in March.

Besides, most of the athletes are employed in the Army and their athletic championship is scheduled to be held from March 22 to 24. Therefore most of the leading athletes will be running at the Army meet and could miss trials.

The events for the year will begin with the National Sports Festival’s Marathon to be held on February 6. After this SLA intends to finalize the marathon pool. Hiruni Wijeyaratne is the only marathoner in the elite national pool.

The National Championship will be used as a selection trial for the Asian Athletics Championship to be held in Hangzhou, China from May 20 to 23. Athletes will also get the chance to compete at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games to be held in Pattaya, Thailand from May 27 to 29. These three competitions will allow athletes to boost their rankings ahead of the Olympic Games to be held from July 23 to August 8.

Relay teams will have a better chance of qualifying for the Olympic Games during the World Relay Championship to be held on May 1 and 2 in Poland. The top eight finishers will be entitled for a berth to the Olympics.

Meanwhile, SLA is on the lookout for more competitions for Sri Lanka’s top athletes, especially in the European circuit that will be beneficial for them to perform and to help boost their world ranking points.

Sri Lanka athletes will also have an opportunity to compete in various Open Championships in Asian countries. Competitions such as the Brunei Open, Vietnam Open and Malaysian Open, will offer valuable competition. These events were neglected in the past with the Sports Ministry refusing to fund athletes for these competitions during the past two years.

The Asian Grand Prix series is scheduled to be held this year prior to the Olympics, but dates and venues have not been finalized.

SLA will conduct trials on October 16 and 17 to select pools for the 2022 Asian and Commonwealth Games, while Defence Services Athletics Championship too will be held the same month. Many other competitions such as National Sports Festival, National Youth Sports Festival, All Island School Games, Sir John Tarbat senior Athletics Championship too will be held during the months of September/October depending on the COVID-19 situation in the country.