The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

To unearth the fastest man on earth

Another page would turn on Lankan athletics

The Lankan Olympians before their departure to London : Standing from left Reshika Udugampola, and Heshan Unambuwa - (Swimming) Mangala Samarakoon - Rifle Shooting (Third from right standing) and Thilini Jayasinghe - Badminton (exteme right standing). Pic by Amila Gamage

Come Friday, first London will stop to rush to the Olympic Stadium. Then the rest of the globe will retreat to their living rooms to witness the curtain raiser of the 30th Olympic Games.Unlike other games these games definitely have a huge significance. The 30th Olympic Games in London will showcase the fastest man on earth along with the some of the fastest men that nature has ever created also in the fray.

At the top of the league, Jamaican training partners Usain Bolt, the current Olympic record holder, and his friend and rival Yohan Blake, who have shaved the 9.75 mark should make it a final worth its weight in gold.Only once in an Olympic final has a sprinter run 9.7 or faster: Jamaican Usain Bolt smashing the world record with his 9.69 at the 2008 Olympics. This is the benchmark that is set for the London Olympics.

Besides the mentioned, Tyson Gay (USA), Asafa Powell (UK) and Justin Gatlin (USA) are capable of consistently running under 10, but the moment of truth is still a few days away. At the same time South African ‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorious will be another athlete who will be showcased in the 400 metre sprint.

For the Lankan team of just seven athletes this will be a learning curve. The two Lankan swimmers Heshan Unamboowe and Reshika Udugampola left for London on Friday. Prior to their departure their thoughts were as such. Lady swimmer Reshika said, “I feel very excited going into these Olympics. This is a once in a lifetime chance and we may never get it again.

“The 2004 Olympics was when I decided to start swimming. I didn’t have a big idea of going for nationals or the world championships. But then when I came to the 2010 World Championships I had this idea I might have a chance of going to the Olympics.
“London is going to be something different. I’ve been training in Australia and I’m aiming for a national record, I don’t know if I will get it but I’m going to focus on that”.

Former Trinity College swimmer Heshan Unamboowe said, “I feel really excited and nervous. This is my first Olympic experience and I have been looking forward to this moment for a very long time. I was also hoping to make the 2008 team but I missed that opportunity. I expect to be at my best at London. As a kid I used to watch all these world class swimmers at past Olympics games and I knew I could do something special, and now my dream has come true. I want to be at my best and record my personal best. This will be a good experience for me and a good foundation for the 2016 games. I’m hoping to qualify for that and do something special for Sri Lanka.”
Though the swimmers left early for acclimatisation, it will be the two shuttlers – the team captain Niluka Karunaratne and Thilini Jayasinghe who will start proceedings for the Lankans during the first day of the games at the men’s and women’s singles first round matches.

On the 29th Heshan Unamboowe will feature in the men’s backstroke heats while shooting ace Mangala Samarakoon will be featured in the Men’s 10m Air Rifle qualification round.Reshika Udugampola will be taking the plunge at the Women’s 100m Freestyle heat on August 1 while Mangala Samarakoon will be back in action in the Men’s 50m Rifle Prone qualification round.
On August 5 Sonali Merrill will take the field in the Women’s 400m Hurdles first round.

Thereafter the Lankans would have a break till the last day of the events, August 12, when Anuradha Indrajith Cooray will be a participant in the Men’s Marathon final.

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