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Taekwondo players show keen interest

Sri Lanka Taekwondo Federation formed a pool of 40 players and have taken all steps for the improvement of the sport from last August in view of the South Asian Games. Taekwondo is a new discipline included to the games in Colombo and will be held at the St. Joseph's College Sports Complex at Darley Road from August 25 to 27.

Kisu Lee, National Coach of the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Federation said that forming and maintaining a 'pool' with wider participation of the players from around the country and providing them with necessary facilities is in the hands of the federation.

The 13 players to represent this new event was selected after a series of trials. Sri Lanka, host country, included the event with the aim of providing international exposure. The progress made by the players from last year is pleasing and they are bound to achieve success, said Lee who is in charge of coaching the national team, Sri Lanka Army, STF players for a long period.

Players from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Afghanistan will participate. Sri Lanka will field 8 men and 5 women players.

Men N. Ratnayake (Pin weight class), S. Alahakoon (Fly weight), M. Ranjiwa (Feather weight), W. P. Hettiarachchi (Bantam weight), T. L. Weerathunga (Light weight), R. M. P. Rajapakse (Welter weight), G. G. Kumara (Middle weight), R. Mudamudali (Heavy weight).

Women Nilanthi Kumari (Pin), A. L. G. Samanthi (Fly), P. Kalyani Gomes (Bantam), Dinusha Happuarachchi (Feather), P. M. A. G. Sandamali (Light). Lee, a South Korean expert in Taekwondo added that equipment worth Rs. 1.3 million was received from South Korea through a fine effort from the Ministry of Sports together with the National Committee of Sri Lanka.

At the 2004 South Asian Federation Games held in Pakistan, Sri Lanka Taekwondos won a silver and bronze in the individual events. Nepal emerged overall champions and India were runners-up.

Lee added that Sri Lanka players who will be seen in action in the said weight categories, are determined to do well. They hope to win two gold medals.

Our players have shown a renewed interest in the sport. Regular practice is very important. The discipline of Taekwondo, the body fitness, physical and mental health also play important roles. It is hoped more junior players will take to this sport. The development of the sport depends on youth development programmes and the federation should strive hard to popularise the game at grass roots level.

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