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Shehan Ambeypitiya 5th, clocks 10.53 secs. in 100m. heats

BERLIN, Aug.15. - Sri Lanka’s Shehan Ambeypitiya clocked 10.53 seconds to secure the fifth place in men’s 100m first round heats on the opening day of the 12th IAAF World Championships which began at the Olympic Stadium here in the German capital today.

Running in lane three of the men’s 100m heat four, Ambeypitiya got off to an ideal start and was within the first three after the first 60m initial dash.

But he failed to maintain the same rhythm in the last quarter and finished fifth behind Dwain Chambers (Great Britain - 10.18), Olusoil Fasuba (Nigeria - 10.31), Monsavous Edwards (USA - 10.32) and Ben Youssef (CIV - 10.41).

Running against the wind (-0.1 m/s), Ambeypitiya was racing behind European Indoor champion Chambers and American Edwards before Fasuba and Youssef went pass the Lankan lad a few metres before the finish line.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Observer after his event, Ambeypitiya said he was aiming to better his personal best timing of 10.43 seconds. “I don’t know where exactly I went wrong. My aim was to better my personal record but that was not there for me. But I feel I did my best,” a humble Ambeypitiya said.

The 19-year-old emerging Lankan sprinter said there is a big gap between the World junior and senior levels. “I am still within the world youth group and it would take some time for me to match the senior level. Nevertheless, I am determined to sharpen my skills and come out with better timings in the meets to come,” he said.

Asked whether he was under pressure when competing the cream of world class sprinters, the Lankan lad replied negative. “I did not feel any pressure and kept my cool. But I was a huge challenge and a good experience. It would help me in the big league,” a determined international school student from Gateway said.

Soft-spoken Ambepitiya was somewhat unfortunate to be drawn in the second toughest first round heat. Out of 96 sprinters who competed in 10 men’s 100m first round heat, the winner of heat 4, Chambers had the second fastest timing of 10.18. Ambepitiya would have qualified to compete in second round if he had run in heat 10, the slowest out of all. South African Simon Maqakwe, despite an unimpressive 10.54 to finish third in heat 10, too made it to the second round.

Title favourites Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay warmed up for the big race, winning their respective first wound heats of men’s 100m. Gay clocked the fastest timing out of all to win heat 11 in 10.16 seconds. In contrast, Jamaican Bolt’s 10.20 was good enough to make him the easy winner in heat 9.

Only four jumpers managed the automatic qualifier of 14.45, with Asian record holder Xie Limei of China bringing the best mark into Monday evening’s final of women’s triple jump event. The 23-year-old lass took care of business early with her first and only leap of 14.62m, nearly 40cm beyond her pre-Berlin season’s best, to easily move into her third consecutive global final since 2007. Xie has competed sparingly this season, but arrived in the German capital unbeaten in five low-key competitions this summer. Defending champion, World leader and heavy favourite Yargelis Savigne wasn’t far behind, reaching 14.53m despite a fairly stiff wind (-1.2 m/s) to move on easily as well.

The 24-year-old Cuban comes to Berlin armed with nine of the world’s 10 farthest leaps, and no one today came close to revealing that an upset was in the making in the final.

Russia’s two-time World champion Tatyana Lebedeva (14.45m) nailed the auto qualifier spot on, also a season’s best. Lebedeva was second in Beijing last year and runner-up the year before in Osaka.

Others to advance include former World youth and World junior champion Mabel Gay (14.53m) of Cuba, who was just six centimetres shy of her season’s best; Jamaican Trecia Smith, the World champion in 2005; and Russian Anna Pyatykh (14.27m), who finished fourth, third and fourth in the last three editions of the World championships, and twice eighth in the Olympic Games.

 

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