Ambepitiya to miss pet events
Sri Lanka’s ace sprinter Shehan Ambepitiya will be forced to skip
men’s 100m and 200m events of the 16th Asian Games due to a leg injury.
Ambepitiya, who arrived here on Thursday afternoon, has been nursing
a leg injury sustained during last month’s Commonwealth Games in New
Delhi where he withdrew from men’s 100m semi finals.
Chef-de-Mission of the Sri Lanka contingent Prema Pinnawala said that
Ambepitiya will miss his pet events but expressed confidence of
obtaining his services for the men’s 4 x 100m relay. “Since there is
sufficient time for him to recover, we may be able to include him in the
4x100m relay team, Pinnawala told the Daily News last evening.
With Sri Lanka’s big guns being silent after their retirements –
Sugath Tillakaratne, Damayanthi Darsha, Sriyani Kulawansa, Rohan Pradeep
Kumara and Olympic silver medallist Susanthika Jayasinghe, they are not
in a position to maintain their track supremacy anymore.
Saudi Arabia will be banking on its strong athletic squad to bring
home a clutch of medals in the absence of Sri Lanka. At the last Games
in Doha 2006, it was in track and field that the Saudi squad continued
its Busan 2002 form, snagging five gold and two bronze medals.
The golds came from Yahya Habeeb (100m), Hamdan al-Bishi (400m),
Sultan al-Hebshi (shot put), Hussain al-Sabee (long jump) and the men’s
4×400m relay, with bronzes going to Sultan al-Dawoodi (discus) and Ahmed
Faiz bin Marzouq (long jump). Sabee, Asia’s No.1 long jumper with a
personal best of 8.35m, is hunting an unprecedented hat-trick of golds
in his event, but has jumped a best of only 7.94m this season.
“The pressure will be on me to live up to my No.1 tag in Guangzhou,”
the 30-year-old said, “However, I hope to become the first athlete to
win the long jump gold medal at three consecutive games.”
Meanwhile, the latest edition of the Asian version of the Olympics
got underway with a spectacular opening ceremony, which most rated as
the best ever in the 51-year-old Games’ history.
With the vast experience the Chinese had in organizing the ‘Olympics
of the century’ in the capital Beijing two years ago, they staged
another exciting opening ceremony which had all the ingredients to
become the best. It was a true blend of Chinese culture, Asian harmony
and modern techniques.
Jin Ziwei, a member of China’s winning team of Women’s Quadruple
Sculls at the 2008 Olympic Games, proudly carried the national flag of
the host nation at the mega opening ceremony graced by the Prime
Minister of China Wen Jiabao, President of the Olympic Council of Asia,
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah of Kuwait and the International Olympic
Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge.
After a month-long journey, the Asian Games flame finally arrived at
its ultimate destination today - on the Pearl River isle of Haixinsha,
which was the venue for the grand opening.
The Guangzhou Asian Games will give a golden opportunity to China to
underline their sporting supremacy, following their huge success at the
Beijing Olympics two years ago. With a massive delegation of 1,454 -
including 977 athletes, a new record in its Asian Games history, the
hosts expects to head the final medal tally once again as the undisputed
However, what China really cares is how to use the Guangzhou showcase
as a springboard for launching its sports power to even greater heights.
“Gold medals are not the only standard,” said Cai Zhenhua, Deputy Chef
de Mission. “The Asian Games is a big parade of the overall power of
Chinese sports and reflects the nation’s position in the world. It is
always very significant.”
China will be hosting the Asian Games after a lapse of 20 years,
having last staged the mega event way back in 1990 in Beijing, finishing
with 183 gold medals.
Incidentally, Sri Lanka’s Sriyantha Dissanayake signaled his
country’s athletic revival at the Beijing Asian Games, winning a silver
and a bronze medal in men’s 100m and 200m events.
Beijing’s success in 1990 marked a milestone in China’s sports
history because the nation subsequently became a major contender on the
world’s sporting stage. At the last Asian Games in Doha 2006, China won
165 gold medals and showed its readiness to challenge the US for overall
supremacy at the Beijing Olympics two years later.
China hopes to refine its golden harvest here in this Southern city,
striving for improvements in such team events such as basketball,
football and volleyball.