2nd December 2001

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Abans to sponsor triangular

For the first time Abans have decided with a sponsorship package for cricket. The Abans Triangular International Series 2001 to be staged here between Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe is to be sponsored by them. 

This one-day series will begin on Dec. 8 and the final on Dec. 19. 

This was revealed at a media confab held on Nov. 29 at its head office. Chaired by Mrs. A. Pestonjee Chairperson, Abans Ravi Perera (Executive Director, B. Pestonjee (Director), Jayantha Kudahetty (Director Marketing Cricket Board) and Jude De Villiers Director, Marketing Taj TV, Dubai. 

She said this was the first time Abans have joined with Taj Television with a title sponsorship for three years for the promotion of cricket in Sri Lanka worldwide, Year 2003. 

This will be the start for an unbroken partnership for Abans. The association with cricket is nothing new for Abans. 

Jayantha Kudahetty, thanked Abans for coming forward with this package - a great boost for the game. It will give more mileage not only for Sri Lanka Cricket but also for their products too. Jude De Villiers, who spoke on behalf of Taj TV Dubai, said the three year long term process with Abans was just a start. 

They hope for an unbroken partnership with them for a better future via sports. This triangular series should provide exciting cricket - with three of the best lefthanders on show - dynamic Brian Lara, master-blaster Sanath Jayasuriya and Zimbabwe's batting dynamo Andy Flower.


Prokart races into championship

By Annesley Ferreira
The All Island Prokart Championship Round I was worked out at the Caltex Prokart Track, finding winners in the Juniors, Ladies and Open P1/P2 (Over and Under 65kg).

Racing commenced with the Juniors event run with each driver given four races in the four different grid positions (4 x 4) and the two competitors with the best results moving on to the next round.

The Juniors event provided a large gathering of spectators, a fantastic display of disciplined driving with Savesh Mendis being placed 1st followed by Dehara De Zoysa in 2nd place and Nikhil Amalean in 3rd place. Kunal Amalean, Rikaz Kaleed and Dion Wijeratne annexed invaluable championship points.

Colombo Prokarts being the 'Cradle of Motor Racing' in Sri Lanka emphasises the fact that there is an abundance of racing talent. As the results show, both Savesh Mendis and Dehara De Zoysa are eleven years old, which definitely augers well for the racing future in Sri Lanka, especially at a time when the Ministry of Sports has already allocated land, at Mirajjiwila, Hambantota, to build an International Standard Race Track.

The Ladies' event was a treat to watch with Natasha Hendrics getting the better of the much-fancied Rasha Yusuf, in a tussle for supremacy. Jehara De Zoysa came in 3rd with the newest female competitor, a Maldivian national, Raniya Waheed, being placed 4th all of whom are in strong contention for championship honours.

In the Open Class P1 (Under 65kg), Sanjay Dissanayake drove brilliantly to beat fancied opponents such as Tharanga Gunawardena who had to be content with 2nd place, Ameen Deane, a pioneer prokarter who was placed 3rd and Rasha Yusuf with some bad luck at the start being placed 4th.

The Open Class P2 (Over 65kg) saw top class racing drivers in the fray and on that day Zackie Ismail emerged winner with race track star Dan Dissanayake coming in 2nd place and a concerted and determined drive by Pheroze Billimoria saw him earn a hard fought 3rd place.

Colombo Prokarts, the sponsor of the All Island Prokart Championship has decided that at the end of the 6 Round Championship, the 4 best placed drivers in each class will contend for the Championship Colombo Prokarts Trophy.

The dates of the Championship is as follows:

First and the second round was held on November 17, 24 2001. 3rd Round - 15th December 2001 4th Round - 19th January 2002 5th Round - 09th February 2002 6th Round - 23rd February 2002.

Royal College Colours Night

Chanaka Wickramasinghe most outstanding sportsman

By M.Shamil Amit
Chanaka Wickramasinghe one of the schoolboys from Royal College to have represented the national team in Swimming from among the other colleagues from his school who have represented the national team in various other sports was chosen as the most outstanding sportsman of the year at the Royal College Colours Awarding Ceremony held at the Navarangahala Hall on Thursday. 

Chanaka was an outstanding swimming and diving champion having participated at the Asia Pacific Swimming and Diving championship held in Hong Kong. The prestigious Royal Crown was awarded to three sportsmen who have gone to the highest level in their respective sports. Harin Kaluarachchi for his achievements in the field of rugby. Chamath Danawansa for basketball and Niluka Karunaratne for badminton.

New sensation in badminton 

Niluka Karunaratne the new sensation in the badminton circle is just sixteen years old. A grade eleven student of Royal College Colombo. At this age he is the youngest player ever to have annexed the nationals title. He has the unique distinction of clinching both the Under 19 badminton title which he won in October and one month later he went on to bag the singles title at the 49th National Badminton Championship.

Niluka is the eldest in a family of four boys. His father Louie Karunaratne has been his coach from the day he began playing badminton at the age of seven in 1993. 

Louie was also a former badminton player though not having tasted success like Niluka. For Niluka it has been hard work right from the beginning.

Speaking to the Sunday Times he said he first took part in a championship in the year 1994 when he participated at the All Island Junior Nationals in the Under 11 age group and got the runner up slot. That inspired him to go for more and bigger events. In 1995 at the same championship he succeeded by winning the Under 11 title. From there it was a matter of bagging titles after titles. In 1996 he went a little further when he grabbed two titles at the Junior Nationals winning the singles and doubles. In 1997 he won the Under 14 Ariyadasa Silva Memorial title and the next year won doubles at the Ariyadasa Memorial championship and the Junior Nationals, collecting both the single and doubles titles. He repeated this feat in 1999.

He made his first tour abroad in the 2000 when he reoriented the national team at the Asian Badminton championship held in Indonesia. That same year he won gold medals at the SAARC table tennis meet winning the singles, doubles partnered by his brother Diluka and the mixed doubles partnered by Kanchana Gonawila. 

He was not able to participate in any tournaments in Sri Lanka as he was not in the country.

The year 2001 has been a successful one for this young lad. In June he represented the national team at the world championship that was held in Spain. Of the four matches he played he won three, defeating the number one players of S.Africa, Cyprus and Slovakia. Sri Lanka was placed second in their group which was divided into ten groups. 

In August he went on a tour to Malaysia for the Under 19 Asian Badminton championship but lost in the quarter finals. 

The months of October and November 2001 has been the most fruitful and the best in his badminton career. In October at the Under 19 nationals he won a treble bagging the singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles. He missed out on a double at the 49th All Island Badminton winning the singles defeating an experience player but lost in the semi finals in the doubles.

It has been sheer hard work for him practicing two sessions a day. In the mornings from 6.30 to 8.00 and in the evenings from 6.00. He says his father has been his coach all throughout his career and his mother has been another person who has been his inspiration. Two of his brothers are also following in his footsteps one is partnering Niluka in the doubles category and have been a successful doubles combination.. 

Niluka has a long way to go with many more years ahead of him. Presently he is the number one ranked player in Sri Lanka and his ambition is to bring honour to his motherland at international tournaments. Niluka received the Royal Crown, the highest award given to an outstanding sportsman at the Royal College Colours Awarding ceremony held recently.


Jason Withford, to add more muscle to Sri Lankan rugby 

By Bernie Wijesekera
For the first time in the annals of Sri Lanka Rugby, players in the national squad will be afforded with a strength and fitness trainer - internationally famed Jason Withford from Australia. This was revealed to The Sunday Times by Asanga Seneviratne the 7s squad coach. He will be on a long-term contract, thanks to Dilip Kumar the diehard supporter of Sri Lanka, now domiciled Down Under. According to Asanga, Jason will train the 7s squad and the Under-19 team in preparation for the forthcoming Thai 7s and the Junior Rugby Asiad to be staged in Japan in December 2001.

At present Jason is training nine Wallabies players in strength and fitness. This is a vital ingredient, especially in this body contact sport. 

Seneviratne said the 7s squad has showed vast improvement. Seneviratne said in the past, we didn't have a proper forward structure, who are equally good as three quarters. There are four players over six feet - Savantha de Saram, Ravi Jayasuriya, Ruwan Tilleke and Sajith Mallikarachchi. The squad possess speed and strength. Our success at the recent Dubai 7s attributes to good preparation. Sajith was adjudged as the player of the tour party.

The team will be managed by former Sri Lanka 'lock' Chaminda Rupasinghe - glutton for work. Level two coach, P.G. Gunawardena, who followed a stint in Australia will be the trainer. Rupasinghe as manager has done much spadework and is on the ball. This last tournament before the year end in Thailand will be an ideal platform for further preparation. The Squad: S. Jayasinghe (Capt. Havies), I. Bandaranayake, Nalaka Weerakkody, Sajith Mallikarachchi, Ravi Jayasuriya Radhika Hettiarachchi (all from Kandy), S. de Saram (CR&FC), Milinda Jayasinghe (CH&FC), Sithara Fernando and Vajira Jayatilleke (Army), Lalindra Rodrigo (Havies), A. Seneviratne (Coach), C. Rupasinghe (Manager), P.G. Gunawardena (Trainer), Jason Withford (Strength and Fitness).

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