Sri Lanka records best-ever performance

Friday, 20 April 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Commonwealth Games 2018

By Shamseer Jaleel 

Sri Lanka recorded its best ever performance at a Commonwealth Games at the competition’s latest iteration which ended in the Gold Coast of Australia last weekend. 

Previously, Sri Lanka’s best performance came at the 1950 games in New Zealand where they won four medals including a gold by former Trinitian Duncan White (athletics), with two silvers from A. Perera and K. Edwin plus a bronze from A. Obeysekera, all of which came in boxing. 

This year Sri Lanka won five bronzes and one silver, with three medals coming in boxing while they earned an equal number of medals in weightlifting.

For the first time in Sri Lankan women’s boxing, a medal was by veteran boxer Anusha Kodituwakku in the 48 kg category at the Games. She lost to Mary Kom of India in the semifinal encounter. Two bronze medals in boxing were won by former Vidyartha College and Kandy player Thivanka Ranasinghe (48 kg) and soldier Vidanalange Bandara (52 kg). 

The Manager of the Sri Lankan outfit, Dian Gomes, speaking to the Daily FT in the Gold Coast, said that Thivanka possesses great skill, as has Bandara who will need to hone the technical aspects of his game. He said that both of them would fare well for Sri Lanka in the future and it was noteworthy that both of them had performed so well in their debut tournament.From 1954 to 1990 Sri Lanka could not win a single medal at the Commonwealth Games (they did not participate in 1954, 1974 and 1986). Melbourne, Australia hosted the games in 1994 when Sri Lanka won one gold and two silvers. Pushpamali Ramanayake won the gold while Malini Wickramasinghe and the pairing of Dodangoda Chandrasiri and Lakshman Rajasinghe combined in rifle shooting to win two silver medals for Sri Lanka.

In 1998 the games were hosted in Asia for the first time with Rugby Sevens being introduced as an official event for the first time. Sri Lanka won a silver and bronze. Sriyani Kulawansa won the women’s 100 metres while Sugath Thilakakaratne won the men’s 400 metres bronze medal. Sri Lanka continued to show a liking towards Australia, winning gold in weightlifting when Chinthana Vidanage did Sri Lanka proud at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. However, he missed out on a medal this year, finishing fifth, which was a major disappointment for the country. The 2010 games moved to New Delhi where Chinthana won a silver medal along with Malini Wickramasinghe and Sudesh Peiris. Peiris continued his good performance by improving in the next games held in Glasgow, Scotland by claiming a silver. In the 2018 Gold Coast Games, Indika Dissanayake won a silver medal followed by bronze medals from Dinusha Gomes, Chathuranga Lakmal, Anusha Kodithuwakku, Thivanka Ranasinghe and Vidanalage Bandara, totalling six medals at the Games, which is its highest ever tally.

In its Commonwealth Games history, Sri Lanka has done well in boxing, weightlifting and athletics and should be sending more players to the Games and injecting further funding into these sports in order to acquire more medals at future games. 

In Rugby Sevens at the Commonwealth Games, Sri Lanka will need to do well and finish in the top four in the Asian region. At present Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) is concentrating more on the shorter version of the game at the Asian and international level.