Anuradha Cooray travelled to Kenya recently to train at a high altitude training camp in preparation for the marathon at the South Asian Games, convinced that he could win the gold medal for his country, Sri Lanka. His preparation was good and confidence high in the run up to his event, but unfortunately a complete lack of communication was to lead to a huge disappointment for his popular man.
Anuradha was leading the race and looking very comfortable as he entered the stadium with an Indian athlete not far behind him. Both athletes were under the impression that they had just over 500m to run once in the stadium and Cooray did not worry when the Indian athlete overtook him. However, both athletes were taken by surprise when after just 100m judges said that the race was over, leaving Anuradha in the silver medal position.
“I wasn’t clearly briefed about this,” said Cooray. “I had much energy left and since the Indian athlete sped a bit too early I planned to stay calm and run my usual sprint in the last 200m but suddenly the race ended.” Winner Nitrendra Rawat too had similar claims to make. “Even I thought I had another lap to run; nobody told me about this. I knew Anuradha was the best when coming here and did target him,” said Rawat who said he sprinted early thinking there was 500m to go, as he knew Cooray was fast in his final sprint.
So, despite protests, Anuradha Cooray came away from the 12th South Asian Games with a silver medal in a time of 2 hours 15 minutes and 19 seconds, just 1 second behind the winner. It doesn’t seem just but unfortunately there is nothing that can be done about the situation now. Cooray will continue his hard work and training ready for the Rio Olympics this summer and as always has the support of his friends and fellow runners at the Club and in Aylesbury.