Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Injured Manju Pulls Out Of Asian Games

Commonwealth Games gold medalist Manju Wanniarachchi has withdrawn from next month’s Asian Games, citing injury to his right fist.
After his gold medal triumph last week, the 31-year old was considered a surefire medalist at the 45-nation event in Guangzhou, in southern China, November 12 – 26. “Manju’s injury is an old recurring one, but it didn’t impede him in any way previously. But having to fight four fights on four successive days in Delhi, was bound to aggravate the injury,” said Dian Gomes, Slimline BC’s ABA representative and the boxer’s benefactor. “X-rays don’t show any fracture in his right fist, but we took the stand that it is better to be safe than sorry and so scratched him from the Asian Games.”
The absent gold medalist’s place has been given to Saman Silva, the southpaw who made a dramatic international debut in 2008 when he defeated the world junior feather champion in the dual between the Moscow Bears and Sri Lanka Lions.
Injury has also forced a second change to the Guangzhou-bound team. Slimline BC’s D.M. Samarasekera, the fly weight representative in Delhi, sustained a shoulder injury whilst losing to a Mauritian opponent in his first fight in Delhi. The 26-year old Samarasekera is to be replaced by a boxer four years his junior, P.D. Suresh of the Air Force.
Suresh’s claim to fame is his defeat of Wanniarachchi in 2009, the first loss suffered in ten years by the gold medalist at the hands of a local opponent. That defeat was in some ways a giveaway as Wanniarachchi fought below his body weight, dropping for 54-kg bantam weight to the 51-kg fly weight, shedding three kilos.
So, of the five boxers that were on duty in Delhi, only three will emplane to China: solider T.N. Tennekoon (light-fly), Slimline BC’s Kamal Sameera (light) and P.A.I. Rajapakse (light welter).
“In terms of medals, Manju’s withdrawal is obviously a blow, but there’s a silver lining too. It opens the door for Saman Silva, who, because of Manju’s presence, hasn’t got the frequent international exposure he deserves, especially after his defeat of the Russian world junior champion. Saman is Manju’s obvious successor and his accidental entry into the Asia Games will only go to quicken the succession,” said Gomes, adding that after Wanniarachchi’s Olympic bid, his retirement is certain.
Injury, however, isn’t the only reason for Wanniarachchi’s withdrawal. “Even if he wasn’t injured, I doubt he would’ve had the required preparation (for the Asian Games), given the celebrations that followed. The celebrations aren’t over as yet. And for all the toil and sweat that went into earning his gold, it’s only fair that he enjoys a long celebration. The Asian Games come a month after the Delhi Games which, if Manju were to compete in, would’ve meant a drastic curtailment of the celebrations he richly deserves and I feel he wouldn’t have been too happy with that arrangement,” said Gomes. “So, from Manju’s point of view, the injury is a blessing in disguise.”
The preservation of self-confidence, born of the Commonwealth Games gold, was also factored in to the pullout decision. “The denial of a sure medal is one way of looking at Manju’s withdrawal. There’s another view: should he compete and fail to win an Asian medal, all the confidence achieved in Delhi would have dissipated,” reasoned Gomes, “that’s too much of a risk to take, as he has now set his eyes on first qualifying for the 2012 Olympics and then bid for boxing’s ultimate medal.”
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