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Sri Lanka bags first gold of SAF Games with marathon victory

Sri Lanka bags first gold of SAF Games with marathon victory
26 September 1999 – Kathmandu, Nepal - Sri Lanka clinched the first gold medal of the 8th South Asian Federation Games here Sunday when Sarath Gamage romped to victory in the men's marathon.

After 42 kilometres (26 miles), Gamage came home in two hours, 19 minutes and 32 seconds at the Dashrath Stadium, ahead of team-mate Mariappan Manoharan who took silver in 2:23:42 to get the Sri Lankans off to a dream start.

Hosts Nepal also got their medal bid off to a successful start, Ganesh Rai picking up bronze in the event 2:25:05.

India, massive favourites to dominate in the gold medal stakes here, opened their medal account in the women's marathon with Rigzan Angmo bagging gold in 2:55.36.

Angmo was a class apart in her race, leading from start to finish.

"I feel relaxed," the 30-year-old from Ladakh said, when asked to comment on her win.

Sri Lanka also got on the medal podium in the women's race, with their runners finishing second and third in the event. D.A. Inoka won silver in 2:57:41, while Dona Malika Chandrakanti came third with 3:12:31.

In the men's race, Gamage took a lead early on and extended his margin to claim a comfortable victory in the closing stages.

"The high altitude training that we had undergone prior to the Games paid off," said the cheerful Sri Lankan athletics trainer Dervin Parrera after the race. "We are expecting at least 15 golds in athletics."