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Pingpong diplomacy: Koreas join teams at table tennis worlds

Pingpong diplomacy is uniting North and South Korea at the table tennis world championships.

The women’s teams from the two countries, originally competing separately, decided Thursday to combine teams rather than play each other in the quarterfinals.

“When I informed the board of directors about this development, the unified team received a standing ovation from the delegates who showed their sign of support to this historic move,” ITTF President Thomas Weikert said.

Table tennis
Members of North Korea and South Korea table tennis teams pose together for a group photo after deciding to combine their teams to avoid playing against each other in the Quarter Finals of the World Team Table Tennis Championships at Halmstad Arena in Halmstad, Sweden, Thursday May 2, 2018. Their quarter final match was canceled after North and South Korea decided to play together in the semi finals, rather than eliminate one of their teams in the quarter final. ( Jonas Ekstromer/TT via AP) (Associated Press) 

The move follows recent cross-border diplomacy by state leaders at home. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in promised last week to work toward the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.

The combined Korean team at the table tennis tournament will next play Japan in the semifinals Friday.

“(It’s) an important statement to promote peace between our countries through table tennis,” the South Korean team said.

In March, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho made a surprise visit to Sweden to meet with Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom. After three days of talks, they said they discussed the “opportunities and challenges for continued diplomatic efforts to reach a peaceful solution” to the Koreas’ security dispute.

“I welcome the announcement that North and South Korean table tennis teams have decided to form a joint team during the world championship in Sweden,” Wallstrom wrote on Twitter.

The original “pingpong diplomacy” was between the United States and China in the early 1970s, leading to President Richard Nixon’s breakthrough visit in 1972.

In the Koreas, sports were another battlefield between the countries at the height of the Cold War. North Korea boycotted the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Olympics, both held in Seoul.

But sports exchanges briefly flourished in the early 1990s before the onset of a nuclear crisis. This cooperation included the North-South combined women’s table tennis team championship win over China in 1991, and a unified world youth boys’ soccer team that reached the quarterfinals later that year.

After the leaders of North and South Korea met for landmark summit talks in Pyongyang in 2000, athletes from the Koreas walked behind a blue-and-white “unification” flag for the first time at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics. This happened at other major international sports events, but the practice stopped after the 2007 Asian Winter Games in Chuangchun, China.

The two countries marched together again at this year’s Pyeonchang Olympics, and the women’s hockey team at the games featured players from both sides of the border.

Relations have thawed quickly since then, leading to a possible meeting between Kim and President Donald Trump this month or next.

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Commonwealth Games: Eight Cameroon athletes 'desert' team

Eight Cameroonian athletes have gone missing from their accommodation at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, team officials have confirmed.

Press attache Simon Molombe told the BBC officials viewed it as "desertion" and that the missing athletes had been reported to Australian police.

The three weightlifters and five boxers were last seen at different times on Monday and Tuesday, he said. Cameroon said the group had valid Australian visas until 15 May.

Officials named the missing athletes as weightlifters Olivier Matam Matam, Arcangeline Fouodji Sonkbou and Petit Minkoumba, and boxers Christian Ndzie Tsoye, Simplice Fotsala, Arsene Fokou, Ulrich Yombo and Christelle Ndiang.

"The authorities are very disappointed with the deserters - some did not even compete," Mr Molombe said.

"The pious hope is that they come back to the village and travel home with the others."

The Australian government has warned athletes against overstaying their visas.

The Commonwealth Games Federation said it would monitor the situation but athletes had "the right to travel freely" on their visas.

The Australian Federal Police has been notified of the development, according to Kate Jones, a Queensland state government minister.

In 2012, seven Cameroonian athletes disappeared while in London for the Olympics.

Source : BBC

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SLC issues ultimatum to Malinga: Play domestic cricket or forget SL team selection

Sri Lanka Cricket selectors are upset with pacer Lasith Malinga for wasting his time as bowling mentor of Indian Premier League (IPL) side Mumbai Indians and issued the 34-year-old an ultimatum to return home to play domestic cricket if he intended to be recalled to the national side.

Malinga, who last played for the Islanders more than seven months ago in the home series against India, was not retained by Mumbai Indians ahead of the 2018 season. He went unsold at the IPL auction and then opted for a stint as a mentor for the Mumbai Indians.

He was named for Sri Lanka's domestic Inter-Provincial one-day tournament but prior to the announcement of the squads, which started on Wednesday (May 2), he posted a video message declining to play any domestic cricket until the IPL was over. In the video he had mentioned that he was ready to make an international comeback during the home series against South Africa in July.

"The selectors will have to make a call-in case Lasith doesn't play any domestic cricket," SLC President Thilanga Sumathipala was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz. "I do believe that we can make use of him for T20 Internationals. We wouldn't have had any problem had he been playing matches at the IPL, but the issue is that he is on the bench," remarked Sumathipala.

SLC CEO Ashley de Silva warned Malinga that his refusal to play in the domestic tournament may shut the door on his international selection. 

"We have informed Lasith that he has been selected. If he doesn't play the Inter-Provincial tournament, it is unlikely that the selectors will consider him," de Silva said. Since his return from injury, the fast bowler has taken just 10 wickets in 13 ODIs. South Africa will play five ODIs and a T20 International during their five-week tour of Sri Lanka that kicks off with a two-match Test series.

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Indika Dissanayake wins silver at Commonwealth Games

Indika Dissanayake won the silver medal in the men’s weightlifting 69kg weight category at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

Dissanayake successfully lifted 297 kg in total (137 kg in snatch, 160 kg in clean and jerk.)

Gareth Evans of Wales won the Gold with a total of 299 kg while Deepak Lather of India clinched the bronze with a total of 295kg.

Sri Lanka currently has 1 silver and 2 bronze medals in the Commonwealth Games, all coming in from Weightlifting.

Source : Newsfirst

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Nishantha Ranatunga to contest SLC elections

Former Sri Lanka Cricket secretary Nishantha Ranatunga has filed his nominations for the upcoming SLC elections. Ranatunga and his confidant Hirantha Perera were the only individuals to come forward to contest the strong incumbent executive committee headed by parliamentarian Thilanga Sumathipala.

Ranatunga, the younger brother of World Cup winning former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna, was SLC secretary from 2009 to 2015. A loyalist of former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the younger Ranatunga fell out of favour after President Rajapaksa’s ouster in 2015.

“I was not to contest the cricket elections, but came forward after several requests by the stakeholders of the sport,” Ranatunga told Cricbuzz.

He contested the 2016 elections against Sumathipala, but was beaten handsomely. Sumathipala has never been defeated in a cricket election. He first became board president in 1998 at the age of 33.

Asked whether he will be able to challenge Sumathipala this time, Ranatunga said, “It is a matter of the stakeholders of the sport deciding whether they want to continue the same way or whether they want to have a change. The standard of our cricket has certainly gone down and we need to address these issues soon,” Ranatunga noted.

SLC elections were scheduled for the 19th of May, but was postponed to June on technical grounds. There’s also a lot of uncertainty regarding the AGM taking place as Sumathipala has come under tremendous pressure after voting for the No Confidence Motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe.

The No Confidence Motion was defeated and now the Prime Minster’s United National Party, the largest party in the coalition government, is making a bid to take over the Sports Ministry, a portfolio assigned to coalition partners Sri Lanka Freedom Party, of which Sumathipala is a member. Sumathipala is the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament and his future will become clear after next week’s cabinet reshuffle.

Source : Cricbuz

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Australia ball-tampering: David Warner 'resigned' to not playing for the country again

Batsman David Warner says he is "resigned to the fact" he may never play for Australia again after his part in the ball-tampering scandal.

Warner and Steve Smith were given year-long bans by Cricket Australia after the incident against South Africa.

The 31-year-old apologised on Saturday, saying he took "full responsibility for my part in what happened".

He added: "I have only ever wanted to bring glory to my country through playing cricket."

Smith and Cameron Bancroft, who received a nine-month ban for his role in the plan to tamper with the ball by using sandpaper during the third Test, had earlier apologised for their part in what happened.

Reading from a statement, an emotional Warner told a news conference: "To all Australians, cricket fans or not, I apologise for my actions and I am sorry for the impact those actions have had on our country's reputation.

"It is heartbreaking to know I will not be taking the field with team-mates I love and respect and that I have let down.

"It is something I will regret as long as I live."

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SLC One-Day Super Provincial Tournament to begin tomorrow; here are the squads

Domestic cricket is set to take off with a bang as the focus shifts from Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) novel four-day Super Provincial Tournament concluded last week to the gallop of instant cricket with the staging of the Super Provincial One-Day Tournament on May 2. It will see the super four teams namely Colombo, Kandy, Galle and Dambulla in the fray.

The tournament will be significant with the SLC authorities prioritizing it in so much as assessing talent in view of Sri Lanka’s upcoming tour of the West Indies with the national selectors having a keen eye on individual performances.

Incidentally the Super Provincial One-Day Tournament to be worked out for the second successive year is viewed as a major step forward in further developing the short version of the game at the highest domestic grassroots level. It is literally aimed at fine-combing the best available talent and nurturing to international standard aimed at taking national ODI cricket to the next level.

One Day Squads

Team Colombo – Dinesh Chandimal (Captain), Thisara Perera (Vice-Captain), Dhananjaya De Silva, Dilhan Cooray, Shehan Jayasuriya, Lahiru Thirimanne, Lasith Abeyrathne, Chamara Silva, Angelo Perera, Dilruwan Perera, Samith Dushantha, Nisal Fransisco, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lasith Ambuldeniya, Lakshan Sandakan, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando, Kaveeshka Anjula, Dilshan Munaweera, Vikum Sanjaya, Sachintha Peiris, Thikshila De Silva, Nipun Malinga (U19), Kamindu Mendis (U19)

Charith Senanayake (Manager), Avishka Gunawardena (Head Coach), Ajith Ekanayake (Asst. Coach), Nuwan Zoysa (Bowling Coach)

Team Galle – Upul Tharanga (Captain), Dasun Shanaka (Vice-Captain), Lahiru Milantha, Bhanuka Rajapaksha, Chathura Randunu, Shammu Ashan, Roshen Silva, SL Fernando, Ramith Rambukwella, Chathuranga De Silva, Janith Liyanage, Seekkuge Prasanna,  Sadeera Samarawickrama, Madawa Warnapura, Mohommad Dilshad, Suranga Lakmal, Malinda Pushpakumara, Nisala Tharaka, Nishan Peiris, Irosh Samarasuriya, Deshan Dias, Andy Solomons, Dhananjaya Lakshan (U19), Ashen Bandara (U19)
Waruna Waragoda (Manager), Hashan Tillakaratne (Head Coach), Upul Chandana (Asst. Manager), Ravindra Pushpakumara (Bowling Coach)

Team Kandy – Angelo Mathews (Captain), Niroshan Dickwella (Vice-Captain), Pathum Nissanka,  Priyamal Perera, Danushka Gunathilaka, Prabath Jayasuriya, Asela Gunarathne, Tharanga Paranavithana, Minod Bhanuka, Chamara Kapugedara, Pramod Madushan, Jeewan Mendis, Lahiru Kumara, Ramesh Mendis, Mahela Udawatte, Sachith Pathirana, Kasun Rajitha, Nipuna Kariyawasam, Avishka Fernando, Adeesha Nanayakkara, Charith Asanlanka, Isuru Udana,  Hasitha Boyagoda (U19), Jehan Daniel (U19)

Malinda Warnapura (Manager), Piyal Wijethunga (Head Coach), Nuwan Seneviratne (Asst. Coach), Chamila Gamage (Bowling Coach)

Team Dambulla – Kusal Janith Perera (Captain), Milinda Siriwardena (Vice-Captain), Nipun Karunanayake, Sangeeth Cooray, Kusal Mendis, TN Sampath, achithra Serasinghe, Lahiru Gamage, Dimuth Karunarathne, Ashan Priyanjan, Lahiru Madushanka, Mahesh Priyadharshana, Amila Aponso, Asitha Fernando, Jeffrey Vandersay, Sachithra Senanayake, Shehan Madushanka, Lasith Malinga, Ravindu Gunasekara, Kosala Kulasekara, D A Rathnayake, Sahan Nanayakkara, Nishan Madushka (U19), Rashmika Dilshan (U19)

Vinothen John (Manager), Sumithra Warnakulasuriya (Head Coach), Lanka de Silva (Asst. Coach), Darshana Gamage (Bowling Coach)

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Rohit Sharma visits SL fans home

Indian Cricket captain Rohit Sharma kept his promise of visiting Sri Lankan fan's home in Colombo during his stay. This was a very emotional incident that proved “The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane.” as quoted by Mahatma Gandhi.

He offered a heartwarming gesture to a Sri Lankan cricket fan Mohamed Nilam, and financially assisted him to travel to see his ailing father. During the visit of Sri Lankan team to India last year, Mohamed Nilam was saddened to know about his father’s medical ailment during the third Test in New Delhi. But he did not have enough money to travel back home. Captain Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma were informed about this by Sudhir Gautam, an Indian cricket fan. Rohit Sharma then made arrangements for Nilam’s return to Sri Lanka. Rohit had also promised a visit to Nilam’s home in Colombo.

“Rohit has a big heart and he immediately arranged for my return ticket. He is a gem of a person. He even asked me whether I need any financial help for the surgery, but I refused to take any money. I am grateful that he arranged for my ticket," Mohamed Nilam said.

However, it was not just Rohit Sharma who came to the aid of Mohammed. Virat Kohli too contacted him and asked if he could do something to help despite not being in India at that time.

"When Virat bhai came to know about my father's health, he too messaged me and asked if I needed any help. I congratulated Virat bhai on his wedding. I feel blessed and lucky to get so much love from Indian cricketers. They have always been very helpful in arranging match tickets whenever we come to watch them," he has quoted to an Indian Newspaper.

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Two Lankan boys in FIFA Children's Programme for the first time

Dinuka Bandara and Ayaan Sadath, two enthusiastic 12 years old Sri Lankan football players will represent their countries in a social global program Football for Friendship(F4F)supported by the Internationale Federation of Football Association(FIFA).

The program F4F develops youth football and a healthy style of life as well as to promote tolerance, open mind and respect towards different cultures and nationalities among children all over the world,Colombo Gazette site reported Wednesday.

This year, the initiative, which is also supported by the Russian company Gazprom, was extended to 211 countries and regions and Sri Lanka is participating for the first time.

Bandara will join young football players all over the world in Moscow 2018 to take part of one of the 32 international friendly teams who will play against each other at the International Friendly Football Championship.

On the other hand, Sadath will act as a journalist and report about all the local and global activities of the F4F program as a part of Children's International Press Centre. He will also make conscience about values of friendship, equality, justice, peace, devotion, victory and honor of the program.

Two Sri Lankan youngsters will participle at International Friendship Football Forum in Russia where they will meet players from other countries, share experiences and discuss with famous football players and journalists about the promotion of values all over the world.

This 6th season of the F4F program will end with the visit of the children participating to the open ceremony and the first play of the Football World Cup Russia 2018.

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Miami Open: Serena Williams knocked out in first round by Naomi Osaka

Serena Williams was knocked out of the Miami Open in the first round by Naomi Osaka as the 23-time Grand Slam winner continues her return after pregnancy.

Williams, unseeded after taking 13 months off to have her first child, was beaten 6-3 6-2 by the Japanese, 20.

The American lost serve twice in each set and was unable to break back.

Her defeat comes after the Miami Open director said seeding rules for players coming back after maternity leave were a "punishment"and "should be changed".

 Osaka is herself also unseeded but last week claimed her maiden title at Indian Wells to move up to 22 in the world.

Her powerful serve and relentless returning proved too much for Williams, who was broken at 3-3 and 5-3 in the first set and again at 3-1 in the second.

Osaka clinched victory when Williams sprayed a wide open forehand long, and will now face world number four Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in the second round.

"I was extremely nervous coming on to the court. I don't know if anybody knows this but Serena is my favourite player," Osaka said.

"So just playing against her is kind of like a dream for me. I'm very grateful I was able to play her and it is even better that I was able to win."

Williams, 36, made her return to the WTA Tour at Indian Wells earlier this month, losing to sister Venus in the third round.

She has no official ranking, which means she cannot be seeded for WTA events.

However, she can gain entry to eight tournaments in 12 months - including two Grand Slams - with her protected world number one ranking.

Source : BBC

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Nic Pothas quits as Sri Lanka's fielding coach

Sri Lanka's fielding coach Nic Pothas has ended his coaching contract with Sri Lanka to spend time with his young family, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said on Tuesday.

The 44-year-old joined Sri Lanka in 2016 as fielding coach but was unexpectedly elevated to the post of head coach after Graham Ford’s abrupt exit in June last year.

Under his stewardship Sri Lanka were thumped in a home series against India and humiliated by cricket minnows Zimbabwe in a one-day international tournament.

The islanders did however record a 2-0 Test series win over Pakistan last year in the United Arab Emirates.

Pothas and several other players then refused to travel to Pakistan for the final Twenty20 international of the tour, citing security concerns.

After six months at the helm, he was replaced by former Sri Lanka Test batsman Chandika Hathurusingha, who was named head coach in December.

He remained as fielding coach and had been expected to stay until August but Sri Lanka Cricket announced that the South African called it a day on Friday.

“After two incredible years with Sri Lanka cricket, this is the right time for me to move on to other opportunities, which will allow me to spend quality time with my young family,” Pothas said in a statement issued by the cricket board.


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Chamari Atapattu to captain Sri Lankan women’s cricket team

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said that Cricketer Chamari Atapattu was appointed to captain the Sri Lankan Women’s Cricket team.

Accordingly, Chamari Atapattu will be steering the team in the match series against Pakistan.

The series, which consists of three ODI’s and three T20’s will commence from today at the Rangiri Dambulla Stadium.

Atapattu placed her mark at the World Cup by scoring 178 points at the match held against Australia.

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