NSSF National Shooting Championship 2017 Youngsters impress as Abeymanne and Fernando claim honours

Monday, 18 December 2017 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Young and aspiring school shooters impressed at the NSSF National Shooting Championship 2017, held at the Naval Shooting Range in Welisara. 

While renowned shooters Suranga Fernando and Ruwini Abeymanne pocketed three top categories, the young school-goers proved their might by claiming 15 top three finishes, including wins in four categories.

Olympian shooter Abeymanne, representing the Cambrian Shooting Club, won the Women’s 10 metre Air Pistol and 25 metre Sport Pistol events while claiming the Mixed 10 metre Air Pistol event, partnering teammate Suranga Fernando. Abeymanne accumulated 368 points in the 10 metre Air Pistol event while in the 25 metre Air Pistol event she picked up 548 points to claim the top spot.

Abeymanne was closely followed by Sri Lanka Police shooter E.M. Pabawathi, who missed out on the top spot in the 10 metre Air Pistol event by two points, while losing the top position in the 25 metre Air Pistol event by a larger margin of 20 points.

Meanwhile, Fernando claimed wins in the Men’s 10 metre Air Pistol and 50 metre Free Pistol events in addition to the Mixed 10 metre Air Pistol event with Abeymanne. Representing Magnum Shooting Club, Fernando won the Men’s 10 metre Air Pistol event with 576 points, while representing Cambrian SC he won the 50 metre Free Pistol event with 521 points.

On both occasions he was closely challenged by Gamini Walgama of Sri Lanka Police, who placed second twice. But Walgama had the consolation of gaining sweet revenge on Fernando in the Men’s 25 metre Standard Pistol event.

However, the shooters representing Sri Lanka Schools were the cynosure of the eight-day event. They were on par with experienced shooters, dominating the Youth and Junior category by winning three of its four events, as Akila Sithumina, Natasha Hendalage and Amandika Weerasinghe claimed the Men’s 10 metre Air Pistol, Women’s 10 metre Air Pistol and Women’s 10 metre Air Rifle events respectively.

The school shooters thrice finished in second and third positions while four shooters, two each in the Men’s and Women’s category, impressed in the main draw. 

Vidura Pieris and Sashika Perera both competed in the men’s 10 metre Air Rifle event and finished second and third respectively while W.A.Y.C. Dharmadasa topped the women’s 10 metre Air Rifle event with Amandika Amarasinghe finishing second.

“This is a good sign for the future of shooting sports in Sri Lanka. The shooters from schools have impressed more this time around at the Nationals than in recent years. It will be a very good foundation in Sri Lanka’s quest for international medals as we can rest easy with the talent that the country has got,” stated Pradeep Edirisinghe, the General Secretary of the National Shooting Sports Federation (NSSF) of Sri Lanka.

According to the NSSF, the Point 22 Rifle events had to be called off on the request of the Army, Navy and Air Force due to a shortage of ammunition. As a result NSSF officials had been flexible enough to cancel four events that come under the Point 22 Rifle category, as the three teams would face a disadvantage in the overall count. However, the three teams eventually failed to show up as the remaining teams in the shooting sports field made their presence felt.

A total of 13 events were held under Rifle and Pistol categories of Junior and Youth, Men’s Open and Women’s Open. Even with the absence of three important teams, the NSSF National Shooting Championship 2017 had over 100 high-profile shooters from clubs and schools.