Anuradha, Hiruni to run in today’s marathons | Sunday Observer

Anuradha, Hiruni to run in today’s marathons

Eugene Marathon champion Hiruni Wijayaratne said she is looking forward to shatter the Sri Lanka record when she makes her debut for Sri Lanka in the women’s marathon on day three of the IAAF World Championships in London today. She is due to compete in women’s marathon final at 2 pm today (6.30 pmss SL time).

US-based Wijayaratne, a dual citizen clocked two hours, 43 minutes and 31 seconds to win 2017 Eugene Marathon last month worked off through the streets and on the river paths of Eugene and Springfield, and qualified to compete at the World Championships. She is determined to make her presence felt and is satisfied with the progress she has made in her lead-up to the world meet.

“I have completed 12-week special training in the US before coming to London. That included 3,000m high altitude training. I have really worked hard, running some 130 to 150km a week. My preparations have been going on well,” she said. Her aim is to annex the Sri Lanka women’s marathon record of two hours, 40 minutes and 31 seconds held by Rio 2016 Olympian Niluka Rajasekera.

“My ultimate aim is the Sri Lanka record, if I come across a perfect race on a perfect day. But anything could happen at an event like this,” the 26-year-old lass said.

Her only worry is the unpredictable weather in London. “We have experienced different weather patterns during the last few days – cold and windy but not hard.

If just cold weather remains, its fine,” Wijayaratne said, adding that her long-term goal is to represent Sri Lanka at the next Commonwealth Games and the 2020 Olympics.

Veteran marathon runner Anuradha Indrajith Cooray will be the first Sri Lankan athlete to be seen in action at the world athletic extravaganza. The 39-year-old Cooray, one of the most successful long distance runners that the country has produced, will compete in his pet event at 10.55 am today (3.25 pm SL time).

He qualified to compete at London 2017 World Championship after clocking two hours, 15 minutes and 38 seconds registered at last year’s South Asian Games. The Buckinghamshire-based Lankan long distance champion, had the honour of representing Sri Lanka at three Olympic Games after gaining qualifying standards– 2004 Athens, 2012 London and 2016 Rio de Janeiro, performing the role of the flag bearer of the Sri Lanka contingent at the last Olympics in Brazil.

But Cooray encountered an unexpected ligament problem when competing at a half marathon in Beckham mid last month. “It was an off road event, like a cross country. I never expected such surface for the race and had a slight ligament injury. I have overcome that now,” said Cooray who is competing in his third IAAF World Championship.

“Unlike in other track event, it is difficult to predict an outcome of a marathon. The race here is a four-round event with the start and the finish near Buckingham Palace.

Taking turns after 30km is a tough task, unlikerunning along a straight stretch. Nevertheless, we have to be prepared to compete at any given route,” he said.

Cooray, a regular competitor at the famous London Marathon who will be running under familiar weather conditions in London, said his aim is to get into the first bunch to take an early lead with the top runners. “I am a person who will never give up anything easily and will try my best,” he

added on the eve of his big race. For the first time in more than a decade, four Sri Lankan athletes have reached qualifying standards to compete at 2017 London World Championships.

Besides Cooray and Wijayaratne, the other Lankan athletes to be seen in action during the 12-day championship in the British capital are Nimali Liyanarachchi (women’s 800m) and Waruna Lakshan Dayaratne (men’s javelin throw).

Both Liyanarachchi and Dayaratne will be seen in action on the same day – on Thursday (10). Reigning Asian champion in women’s 800m, Liyanarachchi will compete in the first round heats at 7.25 pm (11.55 pm SL time) on Thursday.

If she makes it to the last 16, she will run in the semi finals scheduled for Friday (11) at 7.35 pm (12.05 am SL time on Saturday). The final of women’s 800m will take place next Sunday (13) at 8.10 pm (12.40 am SL time on August 14). Men’s javelin thrower Dayaratne, who has a personal best of 82.19m, must produce a vastly improved performance than his achievement at the 2017 Asian Championship (76.78 to be placed eighth) if he is to make his presence felt in London.

The men’s javelin throw qualifying rounds will be worked off on Thursday - Group A at 7.05 pm (11.35 pm SL time) and Group B at 8.35 pm (1.05 am on Friday SL time). The final is scheduled for Saturday (12) at 8.15 pm (12.45 SL time next Sunday (13).

Prince Andrew, Duke of York, on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, delivered the opening address at the curtain raiser ceremony at the London Stadium on Friday night. IAAF President Sebastian Coe then delivered the official welcome on behalf of athletics’ world governing body.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan welcomed athletes from 203 countries competing at the championships. A record number of 2,038 athletes, the highest ever in the 34-year-old World Championship history, will compete at the 16th edition which is due to conclude next Sunday (13). 

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