Lankan contingent leaves for London on Tuesday
Sri Lanka contingent for the 2012 Olympic Games will leave for London
on Tuesday. Led by national menís badminton champion Niluka Karunaratne
who will join his team in London, Sri Lanka contingent includes four
competitors who have directly qualified to compete at the XXXth
Marathon runner Anuradha Indrajith Cooray is the senior most member
of the Sri Lanka contingent, having competed at the 2004 Olympic Games
in Athens, Greece. He qualified to run at the 2012 Olympic after his
superb performance at the 2012 London marathon clocking two hours, 17
minutes and 50 seconds.
Besides Cooray, the only other member in the Lankan contingent to
London with previous experience is former womenís national badminton
champion Thilini Jayasinghe. In 2008 Beijing Games, she became the first
ever Sri Lankan woman shuttler to compete in the Olympics. Apart from
Jayasinghe, Cooray and Karunaratne, the fourth Sri Lankan who makes it
to London Olympics after gaining qualifying standards is rifle shooter
Soldier Samarakoon, a gold medallist at both South Asian Games and
South Asian Shooting Championships, will represent Sri Lanka at the 50m
He narrowly missed a medal at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou,
2010, finishing fourth with a score of 592 points and also scored full
100 points in one round for the first time in his career.
Three other Lankans have been fortunate enough to make their Olympic
debut in London though wildcards. They are hurdler Sonali Christine
Merril, swimmers Heshan Unamboowe and Reshika Udugampola.
Merrill, who is residing and training in the United States, made a
dream debut for Sri Lanka at the 2011 Asian Championships in Kobe,
Japan, winning womenís 400m hurdles bronze medal. She also represented
Sri Lanka at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Degu, South Korea.
Both Unamboowe and Udugampola have been training in Melbourne,
Australia and won passage to London on universality places, formally
known as wild card entries. Universality places are a secondary chance
for qualification awarded to Olympic Committees whose athletes have
shown a high performance competency and achieved the minimum
Backstroke specialist Unamboowe is a recipient of an Olympic
Solidarity Scholarship, awarded by the National Olympic Committee of Sri
Lanka, which provided him an opportunity to train at the Nunawading
Swimming Club in Melbourne.
His performances at the 14thFINA World Championships prompted the
world aquatic sport governing body FINA to pick him for 2012 Olympic
Games on universality places.
Swimmer Udugampolaís pet event is 100m freestyle and she has come a
long way since beginning her career nine years ago. She has set several
national records, representing Sri Lanka at the South Asian Games and
also competed at two FINA World Championships.
Nevertheless, winning an Olympic medal will be a gigantic task for
Sri Lanka, which has won only two silver medals in the entire
116-year-old modern summer Olympics. The first Lankan to climb an
Olympic victory podium was Duncan White who came second in menís 400m
hurdles at London Olympics in 1948.
It took another 52 years for Sri Lanka to break that Olympic hoodoo
until woman sprinter Susanthika Jayasinghe won a medal in womenís 200m.
She initially finished third in her pet event at the Sydney 2000 Games
but after American Jones was stripped off her gold medal after she was
found guilty of taking performance enhancing drugs, Jayasingheís medal
was elevated to a silver.
It is exactly a week away from the opening of the XXXth Olympic Games
in London next Friday.
Having visited over 1,000 communities around the United Kingdom and
celebrated the achievements of over 7,000 torchbearers to date, the
Olympic Torch Relay will see the flame carried by 982 torchbearers
around 200 miles of the capitalís streets, on the final leg of its
journey to Londonís Olympic Stadium.
The final day of the Olympic torch relay next Friday (27) will see18
torchbearers carry the flame, seven of whom will travel with it down the
River Thames on Gloriana, the royal barge. With only seven days to go
until the Olympic flame the lights the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony
it is great to see London ready to welcome the flame as the organizing
committee (LOGOC) chaired by Olympic champion turned politician
Sebastian Coe is working hard to make the London Games a huge success.
Reports from London said that the British wet weather is threatening
to put a dampener on the Olympic Games. Scientists has said that
cloud-seeding, used around the world to prevent fog at airports, stop
hail damage in cities or to boost snowfall at ski resorts, could well be
the answer to overcome the gloomy weather. In 2008, China seeded clouds
ahead of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony to create a downpour
elsewhere and keep the stadium dry.
Firing rockets, packed with silver iodide crystals into rain clouds
over the suburbs of Beijing, too was used in 2008.