Seven confirm places for Rio Games | Daily News

Seven confirm places for Rio Games

Mathew Abeysinghe

Sri Lanka will field a contingent of around ten members for the forthcoming summer Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August.

Already, three athletes have gained qualifying standards. They will be joined by two swimmers, a shooter and a badminton player. However the exact strength of the Sri Lankan contingent for the XXXIst Summer Olympic Games in Rio will be known after the International Olympic Committee deadline ends on July 4.

Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOC), Maxwell de Silva said, “So far, three athletes have gained qualifying standards. Two swimmers, a shooter and a badminton player too have been included in the contingent. There is a possibility of golfer Mithun Perera also booking a place, subject to his performance at the ongoing tournaments before the IOC deadline.”

Anuradha Indrajith Cooray

Veteran marathon runners Anuradha Indrajith Cooray and Geethani Rajasekera were among the first to book their places after they gained qualifying standards in the men’s and women’s marathon respectively last year. The duo also represented Sri Lanka at last year’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.

In fact, this will be the third time that London-based Cooray will be representing Sri Lanka at an Olympic Games, having done so at Athens 2004 and London 2012. Susanthika Jayasinghe, the women’s 200m silver medalist at 2000 Games in Sydney, holds the record for most Olympic Games appearances by an Lankan athlete, having made it to the 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 Games although she did not run in one of them due to an injury.

The 38-year-old long distance veteran was the first Lankan to assure a place at the Rio Games when he clocked two hours, 13 minutes and 47 seconds at last year’s London Marathon, thus bettering the men’s marathon Olympic qualifying time of 2:17.00. Geethani bettered her own Sri Lankan mark in the women’s marathon when she clocked two hours, 40 minutes and 7 seconds to finish fifth in the Asian Marathon last year. Her performance enabled the woman soldier to better her own previous Sri Lanka record of 2:47.55 and become the first Sri Lankan woman ever to compete at an Olympic marathon.

Airman Sumedha Ranasinghe, a product of Kegalle MV, is the other athlete who has qualified to compete in Rio. The ace men’s javelin thrower cleared a distance of 83.04m at the final South Asian Games selection trial at the Diyagama Mahinda Rajapaksa Sports Complex, slightly bettering the Olympic qualifying distance of 83.00m. His feat also accounted for a new Sri Lanka record, erasing the previous mark of 79.62m held by Sachith Maduranga since 2013.

US-born Mathew Abeysinghe is the sole men’s simmer in the Lankan contingent. He won a record seven gold medals - two silvers and a bronze to make it a record total of ten medals, at the last South Asian Games held in Guwahati, India early this year. Kimiko Raheem, who won five gold medals at the same Games will join Abeysinghe in taking Lanka’s challenge to the Olympic pool in Rio.

Shuttler Niluka Karunaratne, Sri Lanka’s undisputed king in men’s singles will be making his way to his second successive Olympics, having competed in the London Games four years ago. Also competing in his second successive Olympics will be shooter Mangala Samarakoon, a bronze medallist at this year’s South Asian Games in India. He is expected to compete in the men’s 10m air rifle and 50m rifle prone events.

Although Sri Lanka expected a couple of wild card entries for a judoka and a weightlifter, it is unlikely that they would get an opportunity.

Nearly 10,500 sportsmen and women from 207 countries are expected to compete at the XXXIst summer Olympiad to be worked off in the Brazilian capital from August 5 to 21. Already, 8,255 competitors have confirmed their participation while the balance is expected to book their places within the next couple of weeks.

Rio will become the first South American city to host the Summer Olympics. The upcoming edition of the Olympics will be the first Games to be held in a Portuguese-speaking country, the first to be held entirely during the host country's winter season.

Among the record number of competitors and participating countries at Rio 2016 will be Kosovo and South Sudan which will be competing at an Olympic Games for the first time. A total of 306 sets of medals will be on offer under 28 disciplines, including Sevens rugby and golf, to be worked off at 33 venues in the host city and five other Brazilian cities – Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Manaus and the capital Brasilia.

Sri Lankan contingent for Rio 2016 Olympics:

Athletics: Anuradha Indrajith Cooray (men’s marathon),Geethani Rajasekera (women’s marathon),Sumedha Ranasinghe (men’s javelin throw)

Badminton: Niluka Karunaratne (men’s singles)

Swimming: Mathew Abeysinghe, Kimiko Raheem

Shooting: Mangala Samarakoon (men’s rifle).

Note: Subject additions by the deadline to gain qualifying standards.

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