The Sri Lankans were able to better their performance at the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games which concluded in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan with another grand closing ceremony which will no doubt be one of the greatest ever in the history of the games.By The Sri Lankans grabbed one gold, two silvers and a bronze, all of which came at indoor athletics, improving their previous medal tally recorded at the fourth edition and the most in a single event. Having participated from the inaugural edition onwards, Sri Lanka has a total of five medals that include three silver and two bronze medals. The Sri Lanka fielded a team of 21 representing five disciplines for the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG), held in the Turkmen city of Ashgabat from 17-27 September. A multisport event held every four years among athletes from all over Asia, AIMAG is a much anticipated competition which is organised by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA). The inaugural edition of the games was conducted in 2005 in Thailand. Twenty-one sporting disciplines were contested at this year’s competition, with Sri Lanka competing in chess, weightlifting, wrestling, taekwondo and indoor athletics. Host nation Turkmenistan finished at the top of the medal tally while China and Iran were left in second and third position. It is a remarkable achievement by the host nation and it will go on to be recorded as the highest achievement by a host nation in the history of AIMAG. Sri Lanka finished in 25th position. Sri Lanka’s athletics success story Sri Lanka’s success story was mainly due to the medals recorded in indoor athletics. Sri Lanka fielded six athletes and four of them were able to produce medals for Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s medal tally was made up of one gold, two silvers and one bronze. The only gold medal was won by Gayanthika Abeyrathna in the women’s 800 metres. Indunil Herath (men’s 800 metres) and Amila Jayasiri (men’s long jump) brought home silver medals while Manjula Wijesekara bagged Sri Lanka’s bronze. The other two athletes were Himasha Eashan (men’s 60 metres) and Vidusha Lakshani (women’s triple jump), who were not able to make it to the podium. Hemasha was able to make it into the semifinals but his performance (6.89 seconds) was not enough to take him beyond that. Lakshani finished seventh place out of 13 competitors with a jump of 12.51 metres. New Sri Lankan record in weightlifting Apart from athletics, the other notable performance was recorded by weightlifter Ushan Charuka, who competed in the men’s over 105 kg category. Ushan broke the national record in the event. He finished eighth place in the competition, in which 10 weightlifters competed in Asia with a total of 319 kg to grab the new Sri Lanka overall record (Snatch and Clean and Jerk) and also the highest ever mark in the Clean and Jerk. Ushan lifted a high of 139 kg in his three attempts in the Snatch and progressed to 180 kg in his last attempt in the Clean and Jerk, adding a total of 319 kg which earned him the new Sri Lanka record, surpassing the previous total claimed by Chaturanga Jayawickrama at the National Sports Festival Weightlifting competition in August this year. Ushan of Sri Lanka Air Force was also able to surpass the second national record in the Clean and Jerk by lifting 180 kg, which was established by Chathuranga (174 kg) at the National Sports Festival weightlifting contest. Sangeeth Priyantha competed in the men’s 62 kg segment, finishing with 250 kg (Snatch 109 kg and Clean and Jerk 141 kg) and finished 9th place in the overall standing. In the men’s 56 kg category, Kamal Deshapriya Egodawaththa finished in 7th place with a total weight of 240 kg (Snatch 112 kg and Clean and Jerk 128 kg) Taekwondo Sri Lanka fielded two athletes in Taekwondo and only Chalinda Liyanagae was able to progress from the Round of 32 to the Round of 16 in the men’s 68 kg event by beating host nation Turkmenistan’s Serdar Caryyew by 37 to 23 points. Anura Bandara was beaten in the first round in the men’s 64 kg category. Wrestling Wrestlers were also not able to progress beyond the first round. Sri Lanka fielded two male and three female athletes in wrestling, Charles Fernando (57 kg) and Suthija. Maduranga (74 kg) competed in the men’s event while Asha Niroshani Karunasena (48 kg), Shamika Madushani (52 kg) and Dilhani Kumari Weerabahu (58 kg) competed in the women’s event. Unfortunately, Chamara Malinda Perera (65 kg) could not make it to the event as he was injured right before the team’s departure. Chess The Sri Lankans were impressive in the men’s blitz team and women’s blitz Under-23 event, which worked out on the last day (27) of the competition. The men’s team recorded a win against the Maldives (2-0) and drew against host nation Turkmenistan (1-1). They lost to Vietnam (2-0). The women’s team secured wins against Thailand (2-0) and drew with Indonesia (1-1) while going down to the Philippines (2-0). In the men’s and women’s chess competition, Rajeendra Kalugampitiya, Romesh Chandra Weerawardena, Mohammed Saumy Zainab and Dasuni Hansika Mendis competed in the individual, rapid team, blitz team and Under-23 rapid team events. In the individual games, Rajendra Kalugampitiya was able to record two wins against Jordan and the Maldives out of seven games in the men’s standard individual event and Romesh Weerawardana also recorded two wins against two Maldivians while he drew his game against Thailand. Mohammed Saumy Zainab and Dasuni Hansika Mendis represented Sri Lanka in the women’s standard individual category. Zainab recorded three wins against the Maldives, Afghanistan and Thailand but it was not enough to take her to the next level. Dasuni Hansika recorded a win over a Maldivian player and drew her game against Bangladesh but she also could not progress beyond that. In the men’s rapid team events, two Sri Lankans were able to draw in their battle against the Philippines (1-1) but lost to India (1.5-0.5), Kyrgyzstan (1.5-0.5), the Maldives (1.5-0.5) and Afghanistan (2-0). In the women’s rapid Under-23 event Sri Lanka secured a win against the Maldives team (2-0) but lost to Uzbekistan (2-0), the United Arab Emirates (1.5-0.5), Indonesia (2-0) and the Philippines (2-0).
By Hishan Welmilla in Ashgabat.