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DateLine Sunday, 17 February 2008

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Six athletes qualify for Asian Cross-Country on March 8

ATHLETICS: Six athletes - three men and three women who fared prominently at the 34th National Sports Festival 2008 Cross-Country Race have qualified to compete at the Asian Cross Country Race Championships to be held on March 8 in Amman, Gordon. The six competitors to represent Sri Lanka are: Ajith Bandara - the 2006 South Asian Games and National Marathon Champion, Gamini Jayasuriya, Indika Ajith Ratnayake (men), Shanika Samanmalee, D.A. Inoka and Geethani Rajasekera (women).

At the 14th National Cross Country Race held in connection with 34th Sports Festival conducted by the Ministry of Sports held at Bulathsinhala town, Ajith Bandara came first in the 12 kilometre race for men, returning a time of 39.52 secs, Gamini Jayasuriya finished second in 40.32 secs. While Indika Ajith Ratnayake came third in 40.38 secs. K.G.R. Saman Kumara fourth 40.45 secs. and Sujeewa Chandrapala fifth 41.01 secs.

Bandara set a new record, winning the men's race for the third time in-a-row. He won it in 2006 and 2007. In addition, Bandara was successful in winning this event in the year 2000 and 2002. In the 8 kilometre women's race, Shanika Samanmalee with a time of 31:51:2: secs, became the winner.

She won this event for the first time, defeating D.A. Inoka - National Marathon Champion, who secured the second position 'clocking' 32:01:01 secs. Third place went to Geethani Rajasekera 32:30:3 secs, B.G.L. Anuradhee was fourth - 32:46:2 secs and W.K.L.A. Nimalee fifth 32:55:4 secs. Dervin Perera, Deputy Director of Sports, Sports Development Department of Ministry of Sports was responsible for conducting the 14th national cross country race of the 34th national sports festival.

According to a senior official of Athletic Association of Sri Lanka, the six athletes will undergo training at the special residential coaching camp from February 20.

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