Sri Lankan athletes performed well to hoist the lion flag high on two occasions at the Incheon Munhak Stadium when they grabbed two gold medals along with a silver and a bronze on the final day of the 16th Asian Athletic Championships here in Incheon, Korea on Sunday. But a sloppy performance by the men`s 4x400m relay quartet cost Sri Lanka yet another possible gold.
Sri Lanka thus finished sixth in the 16th edition of the C`ship with two gold medals, two silver medals and two bronze medals having a tally of six medals. On Saturday, Prasanna Amarasekera and Rohan Pardeep Kumara shared a silver and a bronze in the 400m dash respectively.
Darsha in memorable win ?
Sprint-queen Damayanthi Darsha answered her critics with a blistering performance in the 200m dash which brought back her lost reputation while high-jumper Manjula Kumara Wijesekara got off to a perfect start to his budding career with a gold medal yesterday.
Darsha bagged the 200m gold with a `forget-me-not` effort in 23.21 seconds. Darsha, the current Asian C`ships record holder, with a best timing of 22.84 seconds, was happy with her timely return to form. `It`s a real satisfaction to get there after waiting in the wilderness for few years,` a jubilant Darsha said.
`I was condemned by many saying that my days are numbered and it`s time to retire from athletics. But I proved that I can still be a heroin,` she added.
Darsha who retired from the longer 400m dash a year ago, following a series of injuries which left her out of competition for well over one year, later switched to 200m.
`I was under pressure before the race. That was not because I was scared of the opponents but because I had to answer my critics,` explained Darsha, the thirty-year-old sprinter who had won many laurels in a career spanning over 15 years with back to back medals at the Asian level. Guzel Kuubbieva of Uzbekistan and Chinese Xialoli Ni shared the silver and bronze respectively.
Meanwhile US-based Sri Lankan high jumper Manjula satisfied the Lankans here as he won the first Asian gold medal by clearing 2.27m height. Similar Asian level performance by a Lankan was last recorded during the days of the former Asian Games gold medallist Nagalingam Ediriweerasingham who made his feat in 1962.
Lankan 400m relay quartet dissapointed -
Lankan men`s 400m relay quartet, Rohan Pardeep, Rohitha Pushpakumara Manura Lanka Perera and Prasanna Amarasekara, the winners of the last three editions of the Asian Championship, lost yesterday after some sloppy performance.
They lost to Japan who came brilliantly to oust the champions. Though Sri Lanka finished third behind Saudi Arabia and Japan, the technical committee later decided to disqualify the winning Saudis for foul play helping Lankans to grab the silver.
China stands tall -
China continued to dominate the C`ships with 15 gold, 7 silver and 10 bronze to a have tally of 32 medals. Japan, who had just a gold in the previous edition in Manila two years ago, improved on its medals tally with six gold medals to be placed second. They also had five silver and 12 bronze to have a tally of 23. Qatar was third with 12 medals (6 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze) followed by India who won four gold, five silver and four bronze medals. India failed to win at least a single gold in Manila in 2003.
Sri Lanka was placed sixth behind Saudi Arabia with 2 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals.