Nilani Ratnayake inches forward but bigger hurdles await six more | Sunday Observer

Nilani Ratnayake inches forward but bigger hurdles await six more

5 June, 2021
Nilani Ratnayake
Nilani Ratnayake

Sri Lanka 3000m steeplechase champion Nilani Ratnayake has climbed two places up in the ‘Road to Olympics’ rankings after the 99th National Athletic Championship last week at the Sugathadasa Stadium.

She clocked 9:53.96 to retain the title thereby overtaking China’s Shuangshuang Xu and Great Britain’s Aimee Pratt. According to the new ratings Ratnayake is ranked 32nd in the Road to Olympics rankings making her second ranked in Asia while Bahrain’s Kenyan born athlete Winfred Mutile Yavi is the highest ranked Asian steeplechaser.

Only 45 athletes will be selected for the Tokyo Olympics women’s steeplechase. Of them 19 are selected from those who reach the tough entry standard of 9:30.00.

The rest of the athletes are selected by world ranking positions. Ratnayake is the Sri Lankan record holder in this event with a time of 9 minutes 46.72 in 2019.

She will only have the Army Athletics Championships to attempt a better timing before the June 29 deadline.

Sri Lanka Athletics (SLA) also faces a challenge to send six other athletes to the Kazakhstan Open Championship to give them a chance to better their rankings to make the Olympic cut.

Standing in their way are visa and ticketing issues according to SLA.