Manju Wanniarachchi burst into tears. So did the team manager Dian Gomes. Tears of joy. He rewrote history books. Ended the 72 year long jinx in boxing after years of commitment.
The National anthem of Sri Lanka was played at the Tal Kotara Stadium in New Delhi yesterday.
That was the time when Manju Wanniarachchi won the first boxing gold medal for Sri Lanka at the Commonwealth Games after William Henricus did in 1938 Auckland games.
With massive support from spectators at the Tal Katora Boxing Stadium, Wanniarachchi did Sri Lanka proud by beating his tough opponent from Wales Sean Mc Goldrick in the Bantam Weight (56kg) category final. The points were seven all at the end of three rounds but the judges decided Wanniarachchi as the winner after the accepted total of scores read 16-14 in favour of him.
It was a bout to remember. Wanniarachchi said he was confident of victory and he was not returning home without a gold medal. That was what he proved from the beginning.
From the beginning of the first round, the duo went head to head. The Welsh started to collect the points and scored the first one. But Wanniarachchi’s was determined. Both exchanged some heavy punches but their techniques of blocking kept the points slow.
The first round ended 3-3. The second round saw the Welsh coming forward and the Lankan had to fight harder. His opponent was good at blocking Wanniarachchi’s deadly strikes and the second round ended with 6-5 on the board with the Welshman in the lead.
The third and final round was a one to watch. The best of talent from both boxers was seen. The crowed continuously cheered. Wanniarachchi equalled at 6-6, then Mc Goldring took the lead at 7-6 but soon it was 7-7.
The bell rang and the decision of the judges was in favour of the Lankan who was hungry for the Gold. The final result was 16-14, ending the 72 year long jinx of Gold for Sri Lanka in the Commonwealth Games.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa was among the first to congratulate Wanniarachchi for his achievement when he contacted the Golden boy through the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in India Prasad Kariyawasam. Wanniarachchi thanked President Rajapaksa for his continuous support for sports in Sri lanka.
“I prepared hard for a gold medal at this level for a long time. I lost at Manchester, could not get trough at the Melbourne Games, but I did not give up.
My efforts, the support extended by my coaches, Dian sir, and our continuous efforts are the main factors behind this victory” said Wanniarachchi at the end of the most memorable day of his life.
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