Athletes pushed from pillar to post and into a plane | Sunday Observer

Athletes pushed from pillar to post and into a plane

27 June, 2021
Nadeesha Ramanayake-Sumedha Ranasinghe -Nimali Liyanaarachchi-Kalinga Kumarage -
Nadeesha Ramanayake-Sumedha Ranasinghe -Nimali Liyanaarachchi-Kalinga Kumarage -

The ten member Sri Lankan athletic team finally left for India to participate in the 66th National Inter-State Athletic Championships in Patiala from June 25 to 29.

There was confusion over their departure as they were left without air tickets until the morning of Wednesday (23). They were earlier scheduled to leave on Monday (21) but were left stranded as the Sports Ministry had failed to issue air tickets early.

They were even told to proceed to the airport on Monday night expecting the tickets that evening, but that did not take place and the athletes were utterly inconvenienced.

The Sri Lankan athletes will be taking part in this championship on an invitation extended to them by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI). The team comprise two male and eight female athletes, including a 4x100m women’s relay team.

The team also had to abide by the travel regulation that states that all athletes had to pass the PCR report within 72 hours of departure.

The athletes had to do this test privately as the Department of Sports Development failed to help them out.

On top of these obstacles the PCR tests of two athletes were delayed causing more anxiety to the team.

Finally, the team departed at 10 a.m. on Wednesday (23) via Doha.

According to a Sports Ministry source, the team needed clearance from COVID Health Taskforce, Civil Aviation and Foreign Ministry, which caused the delay.

The team which was set to travel to India included all four athletes who missed the tour to Kazakhstan due to visa issues, Kalinga Kumarage, Nadeesha Ramanayake, Sumedha Ranasinghe and Nimali Liyanaarachchi.

Sri Lanka Athletics had requested to add Himasha Eashan, Aruna Darshana, Waruna Lakshan Dayaratne and Nadeeka Lakmali but the Sports Ministry rejected the request though it approved the addition of Nilani Ratnayake who is currently within the Olympic quota for the 3000m steeplechase event.

This will be the first time in many years that a 4x100m women’s relay team will participate in an overseas competition, apart from the South Asian Games in 2016 and 2019. The team comprises the first five athletes at the last National Athletic Championship, of which four are below 21 years.

They are Amasha de Silva, Shelinda Jansen, Medhani Jayamanne and Safiya Yamic who will run the relay, while senior pro Lakshika Sugandhi is included as the fifth member.

The AFI has also invited athletes from Bangladesh, Chinese Taipei, Malaysia and Kazakhstan for the championship.

Team: Sumedha Ranasinghe (Javelin Throw), Kalinga Kumarage (400m), Nadeesha Ramanayake (400m), Nimali Liyanaarachchi (800m), Nilani Ratnayake (3000m Steeplechase). 4x100 Women’s Relay Team: Amasha de Silva, Shelinda Jansen, Medhani Jayamanne, Safiya Yamic and Lakshika Sugandhi.