Sri Lanka's marathon star Hiruni keeps Olympic dream alive | Daily News


 

US-based athlete clocks her third fastest time in Toronto

Sri Lanka's marathon star Hiruni keeps Olympic dream alive

Hiruni Wijayarathne finished 16th at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Hiruni Wijayarathne finished 16th at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Sri Lanka's marathon champion Hiruni Wijayarathne buried the nightmare of breaking down in Doha last month at World Athletic Championships and regain her self belief in qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo by running her third fastest time of two hours 38 minutes 13 seconds at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

The US-based star who achieved a South Asian and Sri Lanka record clocking her personal best (PB) of 2:34.10 in April in Dusseldorf is “dissatisfied” with her performance despite finishing 16th in the event out of 1,211 female participants.

Coming in as a last minute entry for the event, Hiruni now holds the top three fastest times by a Sri Lankan female marathoner having done 2:36.35 in Houston in January last year. All three times are better than the previous record of 2:40.07 seconds held by Niluka Rajasekara.

“Tobe honest, I’ve struggled to feel like myself after Doha. Although I was humbled to be accepted into the Toronto Waterfront marathon in incredibly short notice, I had major doubts about my future performance. I had a mantra over these past 2 weeks, and I repeated it to myself a hundred times during today’s race,” she wrote on her Facebook post entitled ‘Waged a battle, came out alive'.

“I am the type of runner that does hard things. This is a task. You can do it,” she stated.

“I knew I was fit. But knowing is an entirely different concept than showing it. Today’s (October 20) 2:38 was not the race I trained for. BUT I can’t help but feel proud I finished what I started this time,” she said.

“My running journey has been full of peaks and valleys. I’m okay with it. I am who I am because of my journey,” says Hiruni who has now run the four fastest Sri Lankan marathons in history.

“I ran faster than my college PRs through 5K and 10k, I ran my third best half marathon enroute, I ran my third best marathon to date and I’m

‘dissatisfied’ to run 2:38 - that’s a 6:01/mile for 26.2 miles,” said Hiruni looking back at her career.

“I am overwhelmed by all the amazing people who have supported and believed in me through many trying times. You make me smile daily. For those who doubt me. Keep doubting me, please I dare you. You’re the fuel to my fire,” said the 28-year-old Sri Lanka national champion in the 5,000m and 10,000m who is aiming for a golden double in the 10,000m and Marathon in the

upcoming South Asian Games in Nepal. Her dream is to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, which was made tougher last year by a change in the qualification system. For the 2016

Rio Olympic Games, the qualification time for the women’s marathon was 2:45, but for Tokyo the direct qualification time has been brought down by 15.30 minutes and the new standard is 2:29.30.

Hiruni missed out from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games qualification despite running a better time than the qualification time, as she achieved this time outside the period of eligibility to qualify for the Games.

Thereafter she made giant stride as a marathoner as well as a distance runner, qualifying for the 2017 as well as 2019 World Championship, while being the only Asian female athlete to finish the Marathon at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Hiruni represented Sri Lanka at the Asian Games in Indonesia but competed only in the 10,000m.

“My eyes are set on the Olympics still. The target of 2:29…... I will run that time soon!”, Hiruni, was quoted as saying in ceylonathletics.com. 


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