2nd June 2000
to the Olympics - 74 days 
Chronicling the Olympic Games [Part 5]
By Annesley Ferreira
The huge financial success of holding the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games presented enormous opportunities to strengthen the continuance of these Games on a financially successful scale. This success brought substantial benefits for the poorer nations of the Olympic fraternity to improve their participation in Olympic events. The establishment of the Olympic solidarity funding program gave rise to the dominance of the middle and long distance runners in Eastern African nations - such runners came from Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan and Zambia.
Some of these countries did not have established governments, but a dedicated loyal few to the Olympic movement in these countries kept their athletes in training - eventually to participate in the Olympic games. Stories are replete with their success that has astounded countries that traditionally enjoyed organized administration, etc.
The trend of financial success of the support to Olympic participation has come through to this day with the Olympic solidarity assistance to grow - sadly the countries of South Asia have yet to exploit this solidarity largesse. Sri Lanka is a good example where abuse of solidarity funds goes unabated for personal gain and/or on programs that have not benefited our sports, except in sporadic instances.
1980 - Moscow: the first in the Communist regime to host the Olympic games resulting in a large scale boycott - only 80 countries participating. USSR President Leonid Brezhnev opened the games. The very survival of the games continuing became an issue because of this US-led boycott protesting over the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afganistan. Many athletes could not test their world class performance since all world class athletes were not present in Moscow. The dual between the two British running super-stars - Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe in the 800 and 1,500 metres highlighted the feverish enthusiasm at these games. Sebastian held both world records at these distances, and in a stunning final twist. Ovett won Coe's pet distance of 800 meters while Coe made the gold in the 1,500 meters. Soviet gymnast Alexander Ditiatin, Italian high jumper Sara Simeoni and GDR's triple gold medalist in swimming, Rica Reinisch, impressed immensely. Britian's Daley Thompson established himself as the "King of athletes" disappointing the home crowd favourite, Soviet's Yuriy Kutsenko whom he pushed to receive the silver.
1984 - Los Angeles: having gathered in 1932 for the second time the city of Los Angeles became the hosts of the games of the XXIIIrd Olympiad. The organization was remarkable, as it was the first games to be funded privately in the entire Olympic history. Two people dominated the organizational zest for this successful bid. Angelo Mayor, Tom Bradley and entrepreneur Peter Ueberroth. Ueberroth's initiative attracted some 30 sponsors that contributed more that US$500 million. ABC television kicked over US$225 million to win exclusive rights to cover the games. With all the success seen in financial terms, the USSR repaid the United States for their boycott of the Moscow Olympics by not participating. Star of the games, undoubtedly was American Carl Lewis. Emulating fellow American Jesse Owens some forty-eight years before - won golds exactly that of Owens: in the 100, 200, 4 x 100 and the long jump events. British decathlete Daley Thompson successfully defended his title, done only once before by American Bob Mathias. Sychronized swimming was held for the first time, the solo event won by American Tracy Ruiz other Olympic debuts were women's 400 meters hurdles and the heptathlon - replacing the pentathlon. Consisting of 100 meters hurdles, high jump, shot, 200 meters long jump, javelin and 800 metres, completed in two enduring days. American gymnast Mary Lou Retton won five medals while swimmer Mary T. Meagher won three golds in the 100, 200 and 4 x 100 medley relay.
1988-Seoul: The success of the "16 days of glory" came from the active participation of 159 countries and setting some 27 world records. If was after 19 years that the games came back to Asia and the Korean Olympic Organization did not let loose any "guessing" to make this extraordinary and politically trouble free games to the success it became to be. The government spent some US $ 3.1 billion to make the stadiums, facilities and equipment to be "state-of-the-art" in every respect. Devastated by war, Korea showed no signs of backwardness and presented to the Olympic fraternity as an emerging powerful industrialized country - presenting an universal theme of "Harmony and Progress." The games saw phenominal gains and success in every endeavour of Olympic sports. Starting with the spectacular win by Ben Johnson in the blue riband of events, 100 metres in a world record time, and in minutes to be stripped of his title for having proved, taking performance enhancing drugs, a scandal the games could not bear.
The stunning success of an unknown super sprinter athlete, Florence Griffith-Joyner, popularly came to be known as "Flo-jo" - was simply outstanding, astounded the world with her fashion conscience attire in world record times. Her sister-in-law and heptathlete Jackie Joyner-Kerse established sensational timings in this event and at the 80 metres hurdles.
US superstar, after Mark Spitz of the 1972 games, Matt Biondi won five gold medals, silver and a bronze. In a sensational upset, Biondi lost to a unknown only swimmer from Surinam [population 380,000], the only competitor with only one swimming pool in his country, Anthony Nesty in the 100 metres butterfly. A narration goes as "in the 100m butterfly event, Biondi led for 99 metres when he misjudged the distance to the wall. Matt elected to glide in kicking instead of taking another stroke, allowing Anthony Nesty of Surinam to slip in and out-touch him for the gold. Matt later reflected, "one hundreth of a second - what if I had grown my fingernails longer."
East German and 22-year-old Kristin Otto won six golds and helped to set several world and Olympic records, but was completely overshadowed by Sptiz' miraculous performance. Her amazing feat remains united and unbroken.
The buildup to the 100 metres between Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis was like that of a world heavyweight encounter. The draw for the final saw every ticket being sold and the stadium jampacked. In the lane assignment, Johnson was in lane 6 and Lewis in lane 3. Johnson simply bolted from the blocks and pulled away and noting that he was ahead of Lewis signalled to the capacity crowd with his right index finger that he was "number one" breasting the tape in world record time of 9.79, with Lewis second in a time of 9.92, with four finishers coming under ten seconds. Johnson was immediately declared the "world's fastest" and a national treasure in his home country, Canada. Then came the ordeal of drug testing. Johnson tested positive for having taken "Stannozolol" and anabolic steriod, stripped of his gold and world record, which went to Carl Lewis of the United States.
Super-pole vaulter, Soviet Union's Sergei Bubka won his only Olympic event. He controls the world record whenever he so wished.
After 64 years tennis was re-introduced as full Olympic program. The 1988 Seoul game was a phenominal success and space in these columns prevents reporting the many a unique success at these games.
[In association with C. Vijitha Fernando, Trustee, Duncan White Sports Foundation.]
Sadun Sasana Perera who won a gold medal in powerlifting achieved the Paralympic standard at the Flanders Paralympic Championships held in Belgium.
At the same championships Wesliy Gallath Arachchige won the gold medal in the putt shot, P.A.L. Pusphakumara a gold in high jump, R.N. Ranasinghe a gold in the 200 metres and P. Wijetunga a gold in swimming.
Over 1200 participated in this Championships from 29 countries.
Also doing well was P.V.C. Priyadarsha in swimming winning one silver and three bronze medals in the two meets the Dutch Open Championships in Netherlands and at the British National Championships in England.
At the World Badminton Championships for disabled held in Broken, Germany Lt. Mekala Mahadiwulwawa won the first place in wheelchair event and V. G. Nishantha winning the second place in the wheelchair doubles.
Over 110 participated in this championships from 16 countries.
By Bernie Wijesekera
Javed Miandad Pakistan's prolific run-getter, a great cricketing mind, took over the coaching of the national team from Intikhab Alam before the third Test against Sri Lanka early this year (in Karachi).
Pakistan for the first time on home soil suffered a three-nil whitewash to Sri Lanka in the overs game and was trailing two-nil in the three-Test series, before Javed took over. A controversial cricketer who had to face ups and downs in his career for speaking his mind out from whatever quarter. To Javed it was the game that matters not his personal image. If Imran Khan was Pakistan's sportsman of the century, without doubt Imran was a legend. This was in a poll organised by the Pakistan T.V. He polled 211,624 whilst Javed finished with 143,292. Both are highly respected and did much to uplift the game. Imran had an Oxford background and was playing county crikcet in England. But Javed had a slippery climb to the top.
He was a great captain, a fine reader of the game and a knowledgeable coach, too. Due to narrow politics in sport which is a bane even in Sri Lanka they keep on changing officials like railway signals. This attributes to weak management and lack of professional skills to manage its affairs.
At present Pakistan cricket is being plagued by allegations, including match-fixing etc. In its wake strong man Lt. Gen. Tauqir the chairman of the PCB Adhoc committee is a man with a vision. He took full responsiblity for his actions during Sri Lanka's tour to Pakistan early this year.
Javed Mianded has contributed immensely for his country with his skills. He has scored 8,832 runs with 280 (n.o.) as the highest, with 23 Test 100s. Though it was rather belated, he was called upon to coach the Pakistan team, when its morale was sagging in the international scene.
Earlier he was appointed, but had to depart on a sour note according Hanif Mohamed the all time great now turned commentator.
Well Miandad took up the challenge just before the third Test against Sri Lanka. What a way to stage a come- back for Miandad and the young team sans big names. Within a short time at his disposal aided and abetted by manager Brig. M. Nazir he did a king-sized job. Javed a shrewd tactician and Brig. Nazir a firm disciplinarian with no nonsense got their act-together.
There is a saying that every couple is not a pair. But this pair worked to perfection. Of course the youngsters worked hard all round - improving the all important area - fielding, where hawk-eyed Nazir watched in silence while 43-year-old Javed, still fit to play moved around with the boys like a gazelle put them in place. In its wake Inzamam-ul-Haq reduced his waist. Seeing was believing at the Karachi National Stadium, before the Karachi Test.
Sri Lanka who were leading 2-0 in the Test series, was made to look a spent force and lost the match by 223 runs under four days. After the game Javed, who was interviewed by The Sunday Times at the Pearl Hotel said all credit should go to the team. They worked hard in unison. This win we needed badly to start afresh and no looking back from here onwards. The manager and coach must always work in liaison, not as mere firgureheads apparently here in Sri Lanka, which has hit rock bottom where everyone wants to be in the driving seat at the expense of the game. Lt. Gen. Zia should be commended for bringing in Miandad and infusing young blood to the team. One of them is Younis Khan, who has blossomed out to be an orthodox batsman scoring a debut Test 100 against Sri Lanka and another at Galle in the second Test. Lt. Gen. told The Sunday Times after Pakistan lost the second Test "Sri Lanka deserve to win as they played better. But Pakistan will give exposure for the promising youngsters with an eye for a better future on the longer run." At the appropriate time he brought in keep-fit Miandad to handle the coaching where even greats like Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis paid glowing tributes to Imran Khan and Javed Miandad for their success. Amiable Akram, is the cynosure on the ongoing tour, with his heroics.
Imagine, with Javed as coach Pakistan has found their winning streak, to emerge the top cricketing nation in the sub-continent. After the Karachi Test, they have drubbed Sri Lanka on their home soil winning two Tests at the SSC and Galle also under four days. A feather in his cap for Javed.
After the Karachi debacle, Miandad said, "we were going to win no doubt, but the way the Lankans folded up was most surprising. Is it due to mental stress or reasons best known to them."
If the father and mother is constantly quarrelling then the poor children are caught in the crossfire. In the process they are mentally sick and their future well-being uncertain. It's happening with Sri Lanka cricket, in the ongoing power struggle. Even the Minister of Sports is answerable to put an end to this meaningless exercise. Otherwise this gentleman's game is going to suffer. Pakistan, too had similar problems, but thanks to the Adhoc committee chaired by Lt. Gen. Zia who is doing a good job by appointing men that matter. Javed Miandad is one of them.
Former Secretary of the NOC and the current Secretary of the AAA whose spouse is serving in the powerful postion of Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Sports.
The present president of the NOC was the former secretary to the Honourable Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and former chairman of the Sri Lanka Telecom. He is no more and is out of favour with the PA government but kept on by the MOS so that anything would be possible with him in this ineffective position until the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The NOC president appears to be a reasonable and fair minded person, but has no say in the affairs in the selection of Sri Lanka's Olympic contingent.
The present director of the Sugathadasa Sports Complex [SSC] is also the secretary of the NOC and a close confidant of the honourable minister, who even defied the former navy commander - was released for the present job as director SSC, made at a special request of the MOS. If there ever was a case where the sports law was raped and then strangled to death are these three unbelievable situations. In such an event where does one go for justice? In every sense, an outrageous display of arrogance and abuse of power.
It is highly commendable for Dialog GSM to come forward as the first corporate sponsor of our contingent to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. In this respect there is an element of sponsor irresponsibility in providing such lucrative sponsorship support
without providing certain guidelines insofar as the selection, limiting the inclusion of officials who get the opportunity to be rewarded for their shenanigans having carried them out on behalf of their master[s] as was the case of the 9th Asia-Pacific swimming & diving championships. Once the sponsor receives the initial shallow publicity, all it will get is the small caption when reporting Olympic events. This should not discourage the sponsor - a situation that has gone on for years, but not of this magnitude.
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