Summer Universiade 2017; “Let the Games Begin”

Brace yourselves. The stage is set for the ultimate showdown. 67 athletes will fly to Taipei in search of Sri Lanka’s first elusive medal in the Summer Universiade. The biggest university sporting event in the world will see athletes from 140 nations fighting for medal glory across 22 sports.

The games first edition was held in Italy in 1959 under the guidance of the International University Sports Federation (FISU). Since then, the games had been held once in every two years. USA, China and Soviet Union, the usual suspects, are sitting atop the overall medal tally with 474, 414 and 409 Gold medals respectively.

Summer Universiade had been the baby step on the path to success for many world-renowned athletes. Pietro Mennea, The Italian sprinter who holds the university games 200m record, later went on to win the Olympic gold medal in 200m with a world record time of 19.72 seconds. Marita Koch, the East German speedster was the future holder of 16 world records in short distance running plus one Olympic gold medal and 3 world championship golds. The games also produced future basketball legends such as Larry Bird, Allen Iverson and Tim Duncan.

This year’s games, the 29th edition, will hold the highest number of athletes ever, with the estimation going over 13000. In a closely contested bidding campaign, Taipei overcame Brasilia to win rights to host the games in 2011. Taipei Municipal Stadium will be the main venue for the event which will span from 19th to 30th August.

There is an interesting pattern in overall winners recently. The hosting nation had won the event in the three most recent competitions. China did it in 2011, Russia in 2013 and South Korea in 2015. If the trend continues, Taipei are in prime position to top the medal tally but will have to face serious competition from sporting super powers.

Sri Lankan contingent for the competition will be consisted of 67 athletes from 11 universities. Sumeda Ranasinghe, the man who had performed in the biggest playground(Rio Olympics 2016), will bear the Sri Lankan flag. His javelin will certainly be hungry and ready to taste victory this time. Sumeda and 18 more athletes who take part, are products of University of Sri Jayawardenapura. Rest will be from Sabaragamuwa (12), Moratuwa (7), Colombo (8), Rajarata (1) Pera (6), Ruhuna (5), Jaffna (2), Kelaniya (4), Visual and performing arts (1) and Wayamba (1).

“Our expectation is to manage to go through the group stages of badminton team matches. We have a strong team with several national players. Also, we’ve got Sri Lanka’s Number 1 and 2 ranked women’s badminton players in the team” Sanura Hapuarachchi, the sole representative from university of Rajarata, told MoraSpirit. “ Since several world ranked players will be participating, we need to be mentally well equipped to perform at our best.” He added.

We also caught up with Nuwani Vithanage, former national No.3 ranked Table Tennis player, from University of Moratuwa, who is also a part of the squad. “Some countries have special practices when it comes to these kinds of tournaments. But with the amount of academic work it is hard for us to find time to do much practice.”, she elaborated about challenges they face in preparing for the event. Even with lesser practice time than other athletes, she seems determined to win a medal for her country.

The stage might be bigger; the odds might be higher, but never underestimate the heart of a Sri Lankan in world stage. Let’s all wish the young guns to perform their very best and bring glory to the mother nation.

Sri Lankan Team

Athletics

K.A Kottahachchi (SAB) N.H Henderson (SJP) W.M.S.S Wijesundara (SAB) K.M.I Jayalath (SAB) D.M.C.U Bandara (VPA) R.M.S.K Rathnayaka (SAB) G.H.C Kushanatha (SAB) G.V.H Wathsala kumari (SAB) A.J.M.O Madushanka (SJP) J.A.D.Jayarathna (SAB) N.M.C.C Nawasinghe (SAB ) K.G.D.N.Nawarathna (KEL) A.L Nilaweera (COL) H.P.A Jayamini (RUH) O.D.L.I Kumara (SJP) G.K.D.S Piyarathna (SJP) R.M.S Ranasinghe (SJP) A.A Samitha lakmal (SJP) G.R.C Kularathana (SAB) G.V Udayanga (SAB) A.W.R.G.M Athauda (SJP)

Badminton

Lahiru Ambegoda (MOR) Kavidi Ishadika (SJP) Chinthaka Manimelwadu (SJP) Thilini Promodika (SJP) Sithila Liyanage (COL) Achini Rathnasiri (KEL) Sanura Hapuarachchi (RAJ) Oshadi Kuruppu (SAB) Promod Weerasooriya (COL) Lakhini Shashibhani (SJP)

Swimming

W.K.S. Wikramaarachchi (RUH) K.D.M.K.Weerathunga (PER) T.N. Edirisooriya (KEL) N.H. Ellawala (SJP) H.M.R.L.B. Herath (MOR) D.M.H. Dissanayake (PER) S.S. Vithanage (COL) B.L.R. Hettiarachchi (SJP)

Table Tennis

K.W.I. Udanjaya (SJP) G.V Nuwani Navodya (MOR) A.K.D. Mevan Abeywickrama (MOR) Erandi Warusavithana (SJP) P.B Kavikeshawa (PER) Kasuni Himaya Pitigala (SJP) G.A.D.C. Galgamuwa (COL) A.S.M.K.R. Sahabandu (MOR) U.H.B.Y. Dilshan (WAY) Prasadi Rajapakse (JAF)

Taekwondo

S.L.A.Y. Isuru (SJP) M.T.P.L. Perera (SJP) K.G.S. Divanjana (RUH) K.M.C.K. Gangani (RUH) W.P.N.T. Lakmal (SAB) A.G.N. Anuththara (COL)

Tennis

Y.R. De Silva (COL) M. Rajendra (MOR) Indika Wettasinghe (SJP) M.L.P. Suraweera (SAB) P.D.S.S. Pathirage (MOR) S.R. Abeynayake (COL)

Weightlifting

M.G.C.S.B. Gunarathne (PER) R.M.W.D. Ranasinghe (KEL) D.P.M.C. Senarathne (PER) S.T. Sri Warnasinghe (RUH) U. Vinoth Kumar (JAF) M.H. Azhar (PER)

Artile by : Archanath Dickwella
Edited by: Kasuni Harshika

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