Sonali clocks a season’s best
Sri Lanka's Sonali Christine Merril clocked a season's best 57.15
seconds, yet she finished last in first round heat five of women's 400m
hurdles at the XXXth Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium here last night.
Her timing was well behind her personal best timing of 56.83 registered
in Japan last year.
“I ran a pretty bad race, but got a pretty good timing,” said the
24-year-old Lankan lass who is based in the United States.Running in
disadvantageous lane nine in the last of the five women's 400m hurdles
heats, Merril got off to a reasonably good start and was among the top
lot by the first 150m but she could not maintain her pace.
Sonali Christine Merril
She was one of the first to come out of blocks but lacked staying
power and endurance that is needed for a terrific finish. “I ran badly
in the bend.
That was one of my weak points and I have been focusing on that. But
it did not click well and as a result I could not achieve the timing
that I was expecting. I wanted to go for a personal best but ended up
with a season's best,” she said after her heat number five which was won
by Perri ShakesDrayton in 54.62 seconds, ahead of Jamaican Melaine
Walker (54.78) and Ukrainian Hanna Yaroshchuk (54.81).Of the five
women's 400m hurdles first round heats, Russian Antyukh Natalya, who won
the second heat, registered the best timing among 40 competitors. Zusana
Hejnova of Czech Republic, who won the first heat in 53.96 seconds, was
the only other hurdler to break the 54-second barrier in heats.
Merril, who made a dream debut for Sri Lanka last year winning the
bronze medal of her pet event at the Asian Championships in Kobe, Japan
last year,went on to represent Sri Lanka at the IAAF World Championships
in Daegu,South Korea last year. “But this is altogether a new
experience, different atmosphere and challenge. It was great to get that
experience which I could use to perform better in future. I hope the
experience I got here, competing with the best athletes in the world,
would go a long way and would guide me for better feats in future. I am
looking forward to that,” said Merril, a graduate of the University of
California. The final of the women's 400m hurdles will be worked off on
Asked whether she felt the absence of her coach American Joey Tosta,
she said it would have been advantageous have a coach on the spot,
though she had competed without a coach in the past. “I inquired whether
I could get down my coach. I tried but I was unsuccessful. But I have
performed well in the past without a coach,” she said.
Merril is not the only Sri Lankan competitor to feel the absence of a
coach. None of the seven Sri Lankans competing at the London Olympics do
not have any of their coaches and the contingent does not have a single
coach, though the overall captain Niluka Karunaratne managed to get down
a foreign coach when he was coming to England from Warsaw, Poland after
his overseas training stint.
She is not the only Lankan competitor to miss the absence of a coach.
Two days ago, rifle shooter Mangala Samarakoon widely criticised the
absence of coaches and said that it was a big disadvantage. Following
allegations that a large number of officials have come to London with
the Sri Lanka team,Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage has wowed to
appoint a special committee to make an inquiry.
The exit of Merril makes veteran long distance runner Anuradha
Indrajith Cooray the only Sri Lankan left to be seen in action at the
London 2012 Olympic Games.
Former Sri Lanka national champion who is based in the United
Kingdom, qualified to compete at the 2012 Olympic Games after achieving
qualifying standards at this year's London Marathon three months ago.
He has been hard at practice over the past couple of years and is
looking forward to better his personal best at the men's marathon of the
LondonOlympics to be worked off on Sunday (12), the final day of the
204-nation Games here in the British capital.-