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Boundless Passion for Baseball Takes Varsity Star to National Level
Written by Editor    Thursday, 14 February 2013 18:50    PDF Print Email

 

University students always love to see great sportsmanship. A considerable amount of talented stars are developing through these systems. Lasantha Sanjeewa Manna Uthum is one of them who made a huge impact on university sports through Baseball. So Prior to SLUG 2013 MoraSpirit spoke to him to share his ideas and experiences.

 

Baseball is somewhat new to Sri Lanka. Could you tell us why you chose baseball and how your baseball career started? 

It all started at my school, Ranabima Royal College. First, as everyone does, I chose cricket but my seniors at school hostel were playing baseball. Actually, our school had a baseball culture. Eventually I started to play baseball and felt some desire to play it. At that time I was only 13. Since then I represented  the school until U19 level and I was the U19 vice-captain as well.

 

Where do you think Sri Lanka stands in the field of baseball?

After winning the first international trophy in 2009 we became 46th in the rankings among 120+ baseball playing countries. Currently we are ranked 30th.

 

What are the required improvements? Have there been any changes/improvements in Sri Lankan baseball if look back at the time you started and now?

When I started baseball, it was really hard for a baseball player as there weren’t many tournaments to take part in and only a few people were involved in this sport. However, now the situation has improved and we can see a lot of baseball tournaments organized around the country. Some schools have started to play even big matches now we have taken a big stride by building a national baseball stadium.

 Still, we face many difficulties having to import our equipment from Japan as there is no baseball equipment market in Sri Lanka. Having the facilities to purchase equipments inland would really contribute to improve the standards of baseball in Sri Lanka.

 

If we look at university baseball, where is it now compared to national level?

At 2010 we earned the 8th place at the 5th World University Baseball Championship at Japan and put Sri Lankan baseball on a higher position. This is an achievement which is not thateasy for the national team to achieve. Including myself, we have 4 university players representing the national team and I believe that shows our strength at national level.

 

Could you tell us about performances of your university?

University of Peradeniya was the first to play baseball at university level at 2002/03. Until 2010, we played for invitational tournaments and finally we were able to claim the maiden interuniversity baseball championship at SLUG 2010. Thereafter we became runners- up and won the 3rd place at 2011 and 2012 Inter University Games.

 

We know that you are one of the outstanding performers for your side. Could you tell us the secret behind your success?

I’ve been playing baseball with passion since my childhood. And our seniors at school and university were really supportive and gave me advice to improve my game. The main thing is I always concentrate on my practices. Actually, to be playing baseball you need to have the desire coming from the deepest end of your mind.

 

You must have had lots of great moments in your career. Out of those what is the most memorable moment in your university baseball career?

No doubt it is the SLUG victory. During my 1st year of the university we became the Inter University Champions and I was named captain for the 2012 World University Championship in Chinese Taipei but unfortunately the tournament was cancelled.

 

 You must be really proud of being selected to represent Sri Lanka.  Could you tell us about your national baseball career?

In 2007 I was selected to the Sri Lankan U18 team. Then in 2008, I was selected to the Sri Lankan Senior National Team. Since then I’ve been playing for Sri Lanka up to now. We have won the 5th place at the 7th Asian BFA" AAA” Baseball Championship which was held in Chinese Taipei in 2007, Bronze Medal of Asian Baseball Cup in Bangkok- Thailand in 2009, Silver Medal at the 1st SAARC Baseball Cup in Lahore- Pakistan in 2011 and the Silver Medal at the 10th West Asia Baseball Championship in Lahore- Pakistan in 2012.

 

We would also like to know a little about your personal life. Tell us about your family and their support?

I’m Lasantha Sanjeewa Manna Uthum. My father is M.U.M. Abeyrathne. My mother is N.K. Premawathi. My father was an administrator at the Department of Education. I have 4 sisters and 2 brothers and I am the youngest in the family.

 

Could you tell us about your academic career at the University of Peradeniya?

I am a 4th year student studying in the management stream. This is my final year of the university and I am continuing the game without disturbing my academic life.

 

Any player has a sporting role model. Who is your favorite baseball player?

Ichiro Suzuki of Japan.He is a left handed player. His batting stance and style really impress me.

 

As proud reigning SLUG Champions, how are your preparations for the upcoming SLUG?

In our university we have the raw talent. Most of them don’t know their strength when it comes to playing the game. What we are hoping to do is to take them for our practices and make a really strong squad of players to achieving the task.

Is there anyone that you would like to extend your gratitude to?

I am really grateful to all those who helped me in my baseball career including my parents and family members, my 1st coach, Mr. T. D. Kulathunga and Master in charge of baseball at Ranabima Royal College, Mr. C.S. Cooray.

I would also like to thank Mr. Anjula Mallawaarachchi, Instructor- Baseball at University of Peradeniya and Mr. Palitha Perera, Director – Physical Education of University of Peradeniya. My coaches, Mr. Chathuranga Ranasinghe and Mr. Theekshana Gammanpila also have to be mentioned.

 

By Tharindu Wanigasekara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Editor
Written on Thursday, 14 February 2013 18:50 by Editor

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