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Sri Lanka ready to 'go for gold'

  • Story Highlights
  • Seven athletes will compete for Sri Lanka at the Beijing Olympics
  • Sydney Olympic medallist Susanthika Jayasinghe is biggest hope
  • Susanthika Jayasinghe, Anuruddha Ratnayake top nation's medal hopes
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By Nilantha Kankanange
ART Tv, Sri Lanka
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Editor's note: CNN's global network of affiliates will be providing dispatches from their countries on the Olympics. In this report, ART Tv reports from Sri Lanka.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (CNN) -- Sri Lanka's National Olympic Committee has finalized the list of its athletes who will represent the nation at the forthcoming Olympic Games to be held at the Chinese capital, Beijing, this year.

Boxer Anuruddha Ratnayake (left) is the country's first pugilist to compete at an Olympics since 1968.

Thilini Jayasinghe, shown here in 2006, will compete in badminton for Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan team of three men and four women includes athletic sensation Susanthika Jayasinghe; javelin thrower Nadeeka Lakmali; badminton player Thilini Jayasinghe; shooter E.M. Senanayake; and boxer Anuruddha Ratnayake. In addition, the NOC has included Mayumi Raheem and Daniel Lee for the swimming events.

This time, too, Sri Lanka is pinning hopes on veteran athlete Susanthika Jayasinghe, who will be competing at the Olympics in the women's 100-meter and 200-meter events.

Although she stands at No. 31 in the IAAF rankings list for the 100-meter sprint, it does not exhibit her true potential. Her best performance in the 100-meter this year was 11.24 seconds, recorded at the Doha-Qatar Super Grand Prix last month.

Susanthika's pet event is the women's 200 meters, for which she won the bronze at the Sydney Olympics, eight years ago. According to the IAAF rankings, she stands at No. 8 in the 200-meter rankings. Her best time in 200 meters for this year is 22.73 seconds, recorded at the Carson Adidas Track Classic last month.

The other person to watch is boxer Anuruddha Ratnayake. The flyweight boxer is the first Sri Lankan boxer to be featured in the Olympics in 40 years. Sri Lanka was last represented in boxing at the Mexico City games held in 1968.

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The Sri Lankan media has already begun a huge "Go for Gold" campaign to motivate Ratnayake to bring Sri Lanka its first Olympic medal in boxing in its 60 years of connection with the world's greatest sports show.

Another Sri Lankan is making history at this year's Olympics; Thilini Jayasinghe, who becomes the first Sri Lankan women's badminton player ever to represent Sri Lanka at the Olympics.

The Sri Lankan public, as well as the athletes, appear not to be happy with the way authorities have committed the necessary support for the athletes in preparation for the Olympics.

However, many are of the belief that either Susanthika or Anuruddha will bring honor to their motherland at the Beijing Olympics.

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