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Sri Lanka off to a hot start

Sri Lanka’s Thantrige Perera Mallawa (left) and Isuru Madushan Siddihaluge have won their opening two matches at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics.

Nanjing, China, August 18, 2014 - During breaks in the action, most players sit back and enjoy the misting fans strategically placed next to the benches to combat the Nanjing humidity. Sri Lanka’s Thantrige Perera Mallawa and Isuru Madushan Siddihaluge, however, always instruct the volunteers to turn them off.

They do not want anything cooling off their hot start at the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games.

“We like sweating,” Siddihaluge said. “It helps us focus.”

Sri Lanka has been one of the surprises of the first two days of the tournament, defeating both Paraguay and Burundi.

Quite an accomplishment, considering they both started playing beach volleyball only three months ago, and together two months ago.

“We did not have a lot of time, but we tried to learn all the skills we could,” Siddihaluge said.

Sri Lanka is far from the tallest team at they tournament, but they use their speed to make up for their lack of height. Mallawa is 173 cm (5-foot-8). For comparison, when Sri Lanka plays against Russia on August 22, they will face Oleg Stoyanovskiy, who is 206 cm (6-foot-9).

“Height is not an issue,” Mallawa said. “We use our technique to overcome it.”

After the Youth Olympic Games, Mallawa and Siddihaluge both plan on returning to indoor volleyball for the Asian Junior Volleyball Championships, but they are open to returning to beach volleyball in the future.

“Beach volleyball is fun,” Mallawa said. “We have a lot of beaches in Sri Lanka.”

It will only get tougher for Sri Lanka, as they still have to play Guatemala, Norway and Russia in Pool E.

“We are not done yet,” said Coach Jihim Danapala. “We will play a lot of top teams, but we think we can do well.”

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