Western Province runaway winners
By Channaka de Silva reporting from Matara
Western Province emerged champions of the 28th National Sports Festival as expected, as the four-day sporting showpiece ended here at the Uyanwatte Stadium last evening with a spectacular closing ceremony. Western Province were the runway winners as usualclaiming a gold medal haul of 72 and a total of 166 medals. North Western Province were the runners up with 26 golds while Central Province finished third with 20 golds.

Sriyani Kulawansa created a record of sorts when she was adjudged the best athlete of the meet for the eighth year. Kulawansa-Fonseka who represented the North western Province won the women's 100 metres Hurdles. Best male athlete was W.M.R.Weerakkody of Sabaragamuwa Province who won the long jump.

In yesterday's athletic events Jani Chathurangi Silva of North Western Province snatched a sensational win in the 100 metres sprint over controversial national sprinter Anoma Suriyarachchi.

Silva did not have a good start but made a remarkable recovery to finish with a timing of 12.20 seconds to relegate the much talked about Suriyarachchi to second place. Suriyarachchi's time was 12.28. Suriyarachchi was in the centre of a controversy just prior to the recent Commonwealth Games when she challenged the athletic authorities in the Human Rights Commission after she was dropped from the national 4X100 metres relay team and gained a free ride to Manchester. There were six other relay runners including reserves when Suriyarachchi was picked to the team.

Then National selectors held another controversial selection trial to pick the relay team for the Asian Athletic championships, which many of the top sprinters boycotted saying it is a plot to include Suriyarachchi in the team.

Suriyarachchi was even hailed by Susanthika Jayasinghe as the best in the next generation of Sri Lanka's sprinters, but Silva yesterday proved otherwise. Athletes who won medals at the recently held Asian Athletic Championships, their present coaches and their first coaches were awarded cash prizes at yesterday's festival closing ceremony.

Among the athletes were Susanthika Jayasinghe (100, 200 Gold), Sugath Tillekaratne (400 Bronze, 4X400 Gold), Ranga Wimalawansa (4X400 Gold), Prasanna Amarasekara (4X400 Gold), Rohan Pradeep Kumara (4X400 Gold), Sriyani Kulawansa (100 Metres Hurdles silver), Damayanthi Darsha (4X400 Bronze), Swaranamali Edirisinghe (4X400 Bronze), Menaka Wickremasinghe (4X400 Bronze), K.L.L.Gunawardena (4X400 Bronze).

Susanthika Jayasinghe won the biggest cash award of Rs. 750,000, while Sriyani Kulawansa and Sugath Tillekearatne won Rs. 250,000 each. Western Province also won Overall titles in athletics, Volleyball (Men), Netball, Elle (Men), Kabaddi (men),

Basketball (Men), Cricket (Women), Swimming (Men and Women), Gymnastics (Men and Women), Badminton (Men), Table Tennis (Men), Wrestling, Judo (Men), Karate (Men), Weightlifting (Men and women), Athletics (Men). They also won Overall Team Championships titles for Men and Women.

Women's Triple Jump : 1. A.A.D. Dinesha (Central) 12.09m, 2. Dinesha Kumari Hemachandra (Southern) 11.78m, 3. Chathurika Udayangani (Central) 11.69m

Women's Javelin Throw : 1. Anne Maheshi Silva (Western) 51.97m, 2. Nadeeka Lakmali (Southern) 46.48m, 3. Ridman Fernando (Western) 43.96m

Women's 100 metres Hurdles : 1. Sriyani Kulawansa Fonseka (North Western) 14.04, 2. Inoka Umayani (North western) 15.59, 3. Lakshika Maduwanthi (Sabaragamuwa) 15.86

Men's 110 metres Hurdles : 1. V.G.N. Tharanga (Southern) 15.06, 2. Indika Kumara de Silva (Western) 15.21, 3. T.M. Nawagamuwa (North Western) 15.53

Women's 400 metres : 1. Damayanthi Darsha (Western) 56.87, 2. Mangala Priyadarshani (Southern) 58.92, 3. K.L.L. Gunawardena (Central) 59.24

Men's 400 metres : 1. Prasanna Amarasekara (Uva) 48.13, 2. I.M.R. Pushpa Kumara (Norh Western) 48.74, 3. P.W.G.N. Pushpakumara (Central) 49.02

Women's 100 metres : 1. Jani Chaturangi Silva (North Western) 12.20, 2. Anoma Suriyarachchi (Southern) 12.28, 3. Pramila Priyadarshani (Western) 12.45

First blood to Sri Lanka
Will Sanath Jayasuirya play? Will Sri Lanka be able to maintain the form of the Morocco Cup? will the unpredictable Pakistani's be able to shake off the poor form in Morocco and Nairobi? All those questions were answered a few hours after sunset at the Premadasa Stadium last Thursday.

Playing with some discomfort Jayasuriya, produced his best. In Morocco he was in superb touch. The feet moved with ballerina effect, the concentration was rock solid, selection of strokes was near perfect - you couldn't ask for more. An injured, loss of practice and a physical training can so often put all that into disarray.

On Thursday Jayasuriya demonstrated his mental and inner strength. That toughness is required to succeed at t he highest level and to be able to overcome all obstacles. The captain was able to slip into top gear almost from the momen t he made first touch until he completed piecing together a master craftman's days work.

The influence of Aravinda de Silva was immeasurable. He too continued from where he left in the last innings. Shoiab Akthar and Sahid Afridi attempted to rattle his concentration. It was a rare sight to see de Silva drawn into words - with Afridi. The composure was regained almost instantly and he went about his task showly but steadily decimating the Pakistan attack.

Almost before the first hours play was completed Pakistan had lost their way. At 17 for 3 they had dug themselves into a big hole. With Saeed Anwar not able to time his strokes and the bowlers not giving much away, the Pakistani's were forced with a daunting task.

Chaminda Vaas was at his best . His miserly bowling cost just 27 runs in ten overs for one wicket. Spin wizard Muralitharan did even better and was in fact the best claiming 3 for 22 off his allotted ten overs. Dilhara Fernando and Pulasthi Gunaratne also chimed in with five wickets collectively and Younis's men could muster only 200 runs.

The pitch was good, although occasionally some ball kept somewhat low. Pakistan relied on four pacies. That was not helpful as the ball came onto the bat nicely for the batters to play strokes. Afridi and Shoaib Malik are not good enough to trouble batsmen in the calibre of Jayasuriya and de Silva - players with class and tons of experience.

When Sri Lanka had reached the half way mark of their innings in terms of overs the writing was very much on the wall. Both Jayasuirya and de Silva seemd hell bent on seeing it through to the end. They took no chances, as they did not have to . In the end it was a very handsome victory.

The overall performance of the home team was heartening. They did not come up with their best fielding performance. That they will be aware of and work towards reaching perfection.

Whoever had questions on the minds have had the answers. There is one minor hurdle to clear in this competition, to reach the semi finals, in the form of Holland. Who will be the opponents ? That should be known by this evening.

De Silva revels
Once again the 4 Club plus Putter Competition organized and sponsored by the Hong Kong Bank at the Ridgeways of the Royal Colombo Golf Club was an outstanding fun filled success.

21 flights of 5 each took off to a shot gun start from the 18 tees with the tees on the long holes taking 2 flights each. They were shot off at 7 a.m. with a few participants knock-kneed after the hectic party the previous night. Most were quite comfortable off the tee but the choice for the 2nd shot invariably an approach shot was always tricky. Ajanta Mylvaganam, Ananda Jayasekera, Norman Chandraratne, Shirley de Silva and Padmasiri Dias revelled in the bunkers.

Anel de Silva, fresh from a busman's holiday regained form quickly to smash his way to a praiseworthy 38 points and a handsome HSBC Trophy in the " A" Division. Arjun Fernando, the elegant left hander came a great 2nd beaten by a slender 1 point.

Buonasera wins
Standing tall and stalking the course Haris Serasinghe was a worthy winner in the " B" Division beating Suranjan de Silva with a better back nine. Both scored 36 points each.

A miracle
In the "C" Division there was an absolute miracle. Dasarath Hettiarachchi carrying a massive gut was identified as our absolute raw rookie. He was given 28 strokes to fool around with and quite unknown to him the bogeys were coming in with the occasional par and at the end of the forenoon the man was stunned stiff with 41 points and a handsome HSBC Trophy for a performance identified as the best. It took a few shots of Famous Grouse to loosen the man and make him speak. A great personality loaded with charm he was the most popular winner. Joseph Kenny was sailing superbly until he encountered turbulence, played a few rough shots and then found himself left behind.

Willie Barsenbach has spread like hell but he appears comfortable. An ex-champion he still shows class and distinction when he is round the greens. In impeccable style he chipped and putted to win the Seniors with 36 points beating K.K.U. Perera and his Viennese waltz swing who settled on 35 points.

In the Ladies Division once again Usha de Silva was outstanding. She collected 40 points at the end of the day, heaps better than the men and just one behind the overall winner. She beamed on the way to collect her award amidst a rousing round of applause.

Attractive R. Sangani was most unfortunate to get beaten by one point. She appeared to shrink away from the bash of great applause she received.

Petite Pat Walking show struck an impeccable tee shot on the 9th to settle close to the pin and collect a special HSBC award. P.B. Balaratnarajah a winner in this section on most occasions registered another victory with a stunning tee shot to be identified as the best and closest to the pin. A wag whispered that he will probably be entitled to an interest free overdraft. The man is loaded and will choose a trophy instead.

Suren Madanayake was absolutely impressive with a smashing drive of 306 yds. It's a long time since anybody has hit the 300 mark and he was given a great reception at the award ceremony.

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