Remarkable National Athletics Championship of 1995-by Reemus Fernando

12 National records were established at the annual event 25 years ago


Sri Lanka Athletics will conduct the 98th National Athletics Championships at the Sugathadasa Stadium from today. Looking back at a remarkable National Championship conducted by the athletics governing body 25 years ago. “Performance wise there has been no other National Championship at which so many national records were created” says Sri Lanka Athletics statistician Saman Kumara Gunawardena referring to the 73rd National Athletics Championship which was held from October 24 to 26, 1995 at the Sugathadasa Stadium.

The championship was held in an era which is popularly known as the golden era of track and field sports in the country. Prominent athletes including Sugath Thilakaratne, Chinthaka de Soysa, Sriyani Kulawansa, Damayanthi Dharsha and Olympic medallist Susanthika Jayasinghe, who were well known even in the Asian circuit were at their peak during this time. But neither Susanthika nor Dharsha took part in this championship which witnessed 12 national records being established.

As per the veteran athletics statistician Gunawardena, the 12 national records established at that meet is the highest number of national records established at a single national championship to date. Incidentally two athletes who created records later improved on them to have them against their names even today.

Hurdler Mahesh Perera and distance runner Keshani Samarakoon created two records each. Perera clocked 14.07 seconds to win the 110 metres hurdles in a new national record time and also had an equally remarkable 51.93 seconds performance to win the 400 metres hurdles, again in a new national record time. Perera was the runner up in the 100 metres dash won by Chinthaka de Soysa.

Keshani Samarakoon created new records in the women’s 1500 metres (4:32.19 secs) and the 3000 metres (9:41.44 secs). In both events her runner up was Sujeewa Nilmini Jayasena who would later become one of Sri Lanka’s best long distance runners of her era.

The men’s 200 metres produced a notable tape finish with Chinthaka de Soysa and Sugath Thilakaratne both breasting in a time of 21.19 seconds, a new national record. Soysa was adjudged the winner. Thilakaratne yet to win Asian Games and Asian Championship golds clocked 46.63 seconds to win his pet event the 400 metres. Two years later he would accomplish those Asian achievements and more than a decade later he would become the president of Sri Lanka Athletics.

Long distance events returned notable performances with Saman Weerawardana ( 14:21.79 secs), JMS Jayaweera (14:30.20 secs) and RMR Ramanayake (14:39.45 secs) winning first, second and third places respectively producing sub15 minute timings.

The men’s 10,000 metres witnessed JMS Jayaweera returning a time of 30:10.23 seconds to create a new national record.

Legendary marathoner SLB Rosa had clocked 29 minutes and 18 seconds in a 10,000 metres in 1975 in Arkansas City, USA but the performances achieved overseas had not been recognized even by 1995. But now Sri Lanka Athletics lists Rosa’s 1995 record as the National record.

In the men’s long jump Benildus Fernando created a new national record clearing 7.74 metres. The first and second runners up were Sujith Rohitha (7.42m) and Indika Chaminda Vithanage (7.27m). Incidentally all three athletes have held the national record during their careers.

Ruwan Pradeep Perera who towered above the rest of the field for a long period dominating pole vault established one of the national records at this meet clearing 4.41 metres.

A giant in the throwing arena, Talavou Alailima won both the shot put (16.21m) and the discus throw. The feat of 50.24 metres to win the discus throw was recorded as a new national mark. A new javelin national record was created by Pradeep Nishantha, who years later, become the coach of Sumeda Ranasinghe, the first Sri Lankan javelin thrower at the Olympics,. Incidentally, like Nishantha Jayasinghe, many athletes who won places at this 1995 National Championships went on to become coaches.

Steeplechase winner Priyantha Thantirige, pole vaulter Ruwan Pradeep Perera, triple jump winner Chandimal Niroshan, hurdlers Sriyani Kulawansa and Nayanthi Kumari Chandrasena, sprinters Dhammika Nandakumara and Tamara Saman Deepika, high jumper Imalka Ranaweera, many time shot put and discus throw national champion Padma Nandani Wijesundara and fellow throwers M.A.S.N. Manchanayake and Saluja Karawita and distance runners, R.M. Tissa Rathnayake and R.M.L.B. Rathnayake went on to become coaches.

In the women’s category Sriyani Kulawansa stood out winning both the 100 metres and the 100 metres hurdles. Her hurdles performance was a new national record. While Yamuna Jayalath Yapa took the 400 metres hurdles record under her name, Jayamini Illeperuma won the 400 and 800 metres. In a rare achievement D.A. Inoka from Walala, won the 10,000 metres.

Of the winners of this meet Chinthaka de Soysa, Benildus Fernando, Mahesh Perera, Sugath Thilakaratne and Sriyani Kulawansa made it to 1996 Olympics and many others who won also went on to clinch golds and silvers at the South Asian Games. (Statistics for this story were provided by Sri Lanka Athletics statistician Saman Kumara Gunawardena)


100 M:

1. Chinthaka De Soysa (SL Army) 10.52 secs., 2. Mahesh Perera (Track Master SC) 10.65 secs, 3. PK Sujith Rohitha (Sri Lak AC) 10.85 secs.

200 M:

1. Chinthaka de Soysa (SL Army) 21.19 secs. (NSLR), 2. Sugath Thilakaratne (Track Master SC) 21.19 secs, 3. Dhammika Nandakumara (SL Army) 21.79 secs.

400 M:

1. Sugath Thilakaratne (Track Master SC) 46.63 secs, 2. SR Rathnadeepa (Sri Lak AC) 48.06 secs, 3. Suresh Dematapitiya (CT & FC) 48.25 secs.

800 M:

1. RM Tissa Rathnayake (SL Army) 1:49.85 secs, 2. RMLB Rathnayake (SL Army) 1:50.49 secs, 3. PMGA Dharmasena (SL Navy) 1:50.74 secs.

1500 M:

1. Lalith Galappaththi (Unattached) 3:56.43 secs, 2. RM Tissa Rathnayake (SL Army) 3:56.96 secs, 3. RMLB Rathnayake (SL Army) 3:58.16 secs.

5000 M:

1. Saman Weerawardana (SL Army) 14:21.79 secs, 2. JMS Jayaweera (SL Army) 14:30.20 secs, 3. RMR Ramanayake (SL Army) 14:39.45 secs.

10000 M:

1. JMS Jayaweera (SL Army) 30:10.23 secs (NSLR), 2. RMR Ramanayake (SL Army) 31:10.76 secs, 3. W Sanjeewa (SL Army) 31:19.50 secs.

110 M. Hurdles:

1. Mahesh Perera (Track Master SC) 14.07 secs (NSLR), 2. Tarique Gunasekara (Track Master SC) 14.74 secs, 3. Kenneth Perera (Sri Lak AC) 15.11 secs.

400 M. Hurdles:

1. Mahesh Perera (Track Master SC) 51.93 secs. (NSLR), 2. RC Pushpakumara (SL Army) 52.78 secs, 3. Sunimal Manamperi (SL Army) 53.96 secs.

3000 M. Steeplechase:

1. PP Thantirige (SL Army) 9:06.52 secs, 2. Ajith Ebert Silva (SL Army) 9:17.25 secs, 3. DW Prasantha (SL Army) 9:29.56 secs.

High Jump:

1. Patrick Saparamadu (CT & FC) 1.95m, 2. S Maximus Fernando (Ace AC) 1.90m, 3. Glen Wilson (CT & FC) 1.90m.

Pole Vault:

1. Ruwan Pradeep Perera (SL Army) 4.41 m (NSLR), 2. DMG Dissanayake (SL Army) 4.20m, 3. W Somarathne (SL Army) 4.15m.

Long Jump:

1. T Benildus Fernando (Sri Lak AC) 7.74 m (NSLR), 2. PK Sujith Rohitha (Sri Lak AC) 7.42m, 3. Indika Chaminda Vithanage (Track Master SC) 7.27m.

Triple Jump:

1. Chandimal Niroshan (Ace AC) 15.42m, 2. PS Senathilake (SL Army) 15.05m, 3. PA Manawadu (CT & FC) 14.96m.

Shot Put:

1. Talavou F Alailima (Track Master SC) 16.21m, 2. W. Fonseka (SL Army) 12.18m, 3. Suranga Weerasinghe (SL Schools) 12.03m.

Discus Throw:

1. Talavou F Alailima (Track Master SC) 50.24m (NSLR), 2. Ajith Jayakody (SL Army) 46.06m, 3. Alexi Gunasekara (Ace AC) 39.04m.

Javelin Throw:

1. AB Pradeep Nishantha (SL Army) 64.62 m (NSLR), 2. PK Aluvihare (Track Master SC) 62.82m, 3. APS Jayajeewa (Sri Lak AC) 60.16m.


100 M:

1. MA Sriyani Kulawansa (Ace AC) 11.92 secs, 2. Tamara Saman Deepika (SL Army) 11.92 secs, 3. Dilhani Rupasinghe (SL Army) 12.04 secs.

200 M:

1. Tamara Samandeepika (SL Army) 24.27 secs, 2. Dilhani Rupasinghe (SL Army) 25.90 secs, 3. PC Hemathilake (SL Schools) 26.68 secs.

400 M:

1. Jayamini Illeperuma (Ace AC) 55.59 secs, 2. BG Chandralatha (SL Army) 56.80 secs, 3. HH Thambaralatha (Matara DAA) 57.97 secs.

800 M:

1. Jayamini Illeperuma (Ace AC) 2:13.36 secs, 2. AG Dhammika Kumari (Kegalle DAA) 2:14.47 secs, 3. AMN Edirisinghe (SL Schools) 2:20.93 secs.

1500 M:

1. Keshani Samarakoon (SL Air Force) 4:32.19 secs (NSLR), 2. Sujeewa Nilmini Jayasena (Unattached) 4:40.38 secs, 3. Udeni Kanchanamala (Track Master SC) 4:40.84 secx.

3000 M:

1. Keshani Samarakoon (SL Air Force) 9:41.44secs (NSLR), 2. Sujeewa Nilmini Jayasena (Unattached) 9:44.36 secs, 3. Udeni Kanchanamala (Track Master SC) 10:12.26 secs.

10000 M:

1. D.A. Inoka (SL Schools) 39:15.88 secs, 2. Deepa Priyangani (Matara DAA) 40:45.02 secs, 3. WM Irin (Kegalle DAA) 41:23.76 secs.

100 M. Hurdles:

1. MA Sriyani Kulawansa (Ace AC) 13.53 secs (NSLR), 2. Inoka Umayani (SL Army) 15.63 secs, 3. Nayanthi Kumari Chandrasena (Track Master SC) 16.18 secs.

400 M. Hurdles:

1. Yamuna Jayalath Yapa (Sri Lak AC) 62.79 secs (NSLR), 2. Anusha Jayweera (SL Schools) 63.25 secs, 3. Viyanka Welpahla (SL Navy) 63.89 secs.

High Jump:

1. Muditha Hiripitya (Sri Lak AC) 1.64m, 2. DG Rajapaksha (SL Navy) 1.61m, 3. Imalka Ranaweera (Sri Lak AC) 1.58m.

Long Jump:

1. Anusha Kariyawasam (Sri Lak AC) 5.87m, 2. KM Indrani (Matale DAA) 5.62m, 3. PES Fernando (Sri Lak AC) 5.58m.

Triple Jump:

1. R. Thushari Ariyaratne (SL Army) 12.00m, 2. Padma Nandani Wijesundara (Track Master SC) 11.90m, 3. PES Fernando (Sri Lak AC) 11.45m.

Shot Put:

1. Padma Nandani Wijesundara (Track Master SC) 11.31m, 2. LR Siribaddana (Track Master SC) 11.02m, 3. M.A.S.N. Manchanayake (Track Master SC) 10.36m.

Discus Throw:

1. Padma Nandani Wijesundara (Track Master SC) 41.60m, 2. L Saluja Karawita (SL Schools) 38.30m, 3. Suneetha Iranganie (Puttalam DAA) 34.86m.

Javelin Throw:

1. MA Priyanka Nishani (Sri Lak AC) 43.74m, 2. Rosemary Fernando (Sri Lak AC) 40.76m, 3. Chamani Ridma Fernando (SL Schools) 38.60m.

4X100 M. Inter Club Relay:

1. SL Army 49.31secs, 2. Ace AC 50.13 secs, 3. Track Master SC 51.15 secs


New Sri Lanka Record -NSLR

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