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Archers keen and eager to do well

Sri Lanka's young archers hope to win more medals in Archery, the latest addition to the South Asian Games. Archery competition will be held from August 23 to 26 at the Colombo Hockey and Football Ground at Maitland Crescent.

Kesara Serasinghe, the National Coach of Sri Lanka Archery Association, said that the sport has a history of over 50,000 years. But Sri Lanka is relatively young in the sport with just four years under its belt and is expecting to fight strong and hard at the South Asian Games.

The Archery Association which was initially called the Archery Development Association, was converted after its former president Commander H. U. Silva started an archery school at the Sugathadasa Stadium several years ago.

The first Archery Nationals were held in 2001 and there were several coaches from abroad who helped our local coaches in training the participants.

Serasinghe the first captain of the Sri Lanka Archery team who has represented the country at several archery competitions, said that 25 archers were in training at the Sugathadasa Stadium and the final trial was held in July and eight best archers 4 men and 4 women were selected.

These eight selectees had the opportunity of participating in India and Bangladesh and they showed a good standard with their shooting with arrows. The experience they gained in India and Bangladesh will see our archers coming to the limelight at the South Asian Games.

The archers from Sri Lanka will have a chance of beating world class archers from India and Nepal. Archery is the national sport of Nepal and the former Indian archers have traditionally among the world top three or four.

Archers from Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka will compete in both men and womens team events and individual event.

The Sri Lanka archers - Men: Rajeeva Wickremasinghe, Nimantha Fernando Muditha Thotagamuwa, Manoja Kodikara.

Women: Sajeevi Silva, Dilhara Salgado, Shasikala Kumarasinghe, Dudili Silva.

Serasinghe added that an archer has to shoot 72 arrows at a 70 metre distance. It will be similar to Olympic round. The archers stand together and shoot on the target.

The Sri Lanka Archery Association has been assisted in a big way by Korean Organisation (KOICA) who has donated equipment valued around RS. 4 million for the South Asian Games including timing equipment, telescopes, bows and arrows, clothing.

Answering a question of the chances of Sri Lanka winning medals, Serasinghe - the only level three qualified coach in Sri Lanka said that with top class facilities for archers of India and Nepal it is not surprising that these two countries are the main contenders for the silver and gold positions at SAG.

"We will try for silver and give Nepal a run for their money quipped confident Serasinghe."

Finally Serasinghe said that this sport should be popularised having training establishments outside Colombo. Furthermore, we need more youth to get involved. Proper training and funding is also necessary, Serasinghe added for the sport to prosper.

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Produced by Lake House Copyright 2006 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

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