by Reemus Fernando
St. Aloysius’ College, Rathnapura athlete Lahiru Achintha will celebrate his 15th birthday on April 13. He has three more years to enter the Junior Category (Under 20) in athletics events. Yet the youngster in a display of remarkable endurance power stunned his senior counterparts to win the Junior South Asian Cross Country trial conducted at Diyagama on Saturday.
The athlete trained by Chamil Bothota, a former middle and long distance runner, clocked 27 minutes and 53 seconds to complete the grueling eight kilometres race. The 14-year old was in the lead pack from the start and maintained a steady pace right throughout to win.
The jaw dropping feat by the young prodigy left athletics officials scratching their heads and making correspondence with their Pakistan counterparts to find whether Under 16 athletes are allowed at the 3rd edition of the South Asian Cross Country championships which will be held in March.
Generally, athletes in the Under 16 age category are not allowed to compete alongside seniors.
Achintha’s coach Bothota who is a contemporary of national men’s 1500 metres record holder Chaminda Wijekoon said that beating seniors was a remarkable achievement by his charge. “I see in him features of Chaminda Wijekoon,” Bothota told The Island.
Sri Lanka Athletics secretary Saman Kumara said the association was yet to receive a reply from Pakistan to take a decision regarding including the youngster in the junior team for the South Asian Cross Country Championships.