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10th September 2000
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Corrupt officials do it again

On the 15th of February 2000 , young Radeesha Daluwatte who was then 15 years of age was informed by the Selectors of NAASU that she was to represent her country at the Sydney Olympic Games. 

Thereafter the National Olympic Committee whose duty is to ensure through National Associations of Sport affiliated to it that the representation of Sri Lanka by the best available teams directed NAASU to select YOUNG, PROMISING SWIMMERS WHO WOULD BE AVAILABLE TO REPRESENT SRI LANKA AT FUTURE ASIAN, COMMONWEALTH AND OLYMPIC GAMES. 

With the above directive in mind, NAASU then proceeds to hold 2 Trials on the 22nd of April and 11th of May 2000. 

The swimmers that turn up are not told the event on which they would be selected. They are given nearly six events and requested to compete in any events they think fit. 

Radeesha on the first day takes part in 5 out of 6 events, while Theekshana takes part in only three events. On the 11th of May 2000, Radeesha takes part in three events whilst Theekshan takes part in two events. 

On the 1st day, whilst Radeesha was beaten in the 100 metres Free Style by Theekshana, on the 11th of May , Theekshana was beaten by Radeesha in the 100 metres Free Style by a timing of 1.06.54 which was the best timing in over the 2 days of Trials for this event. 

Even in the 100 metres Butterfly and 100 metres Backstroke, in which Theekshana did not compete either on the 1st or 2nd dates of the Trials, Radeesha's timing was a definite improvement from the 1st day's Trials. 

On the other hand, Theekshana who had a timing of 30.62 in the 50 metre Free Style did not improve same and achieved a timing of 31.47 secs - Radeesha did not compete in this event on the 2nd day, Theekshana also did not improve her timing in the 100 metres Free Style where on the 2nd day, she achieved a timing of 1.06.73. 

As Rover said earlier, the competing swimmers were not given a criteria for selection and Ediriweera Wilson, the Coach of both girls at that Trial also collaborates this position. 

Thereafter, on the 15th of May, the President of NAASU, sends his recommendation of its selection committee to the Secretary General of the NOC. 

The letter says, the recommendations of the NAASU Selection Committee are in terms of the guidelines set out by the NOC. 

The guidelines for selection are Timing, Potential, Improvement and Availability, We give below the basis of selection thereupon. 

NOC Guide Lines 

Theekshana Radeesha 

Ratnasekara Daluwatte 

a) Timing (Annex A) 1 0
b) Potential (Age) 0 1
c) Improvement 0 0
d) Availability 1 1 

As both are so close, basis of selection is closest to 'B' qualifying time in 50 M Free Style event. 

We recommend as follows: 

No.1 : Theekshana Ratnasekara 
No.2: Radeesha Daluwatte 

Rover for a moment cannot understand how the Selectors could give 0 to Radeesha and 1 for Theekshana with regard to Timings when in fact Radeesha improved her Timings in every event. whilst Theekshana's Timing deteriorated. The same could be said with regard to the Improvement. 

It is obvious that Trials were a deliberate fix to enable Theekshana to go, for if the Selectors were to base their decision only on the 50 metres performance, then both swimmers ought to have been told to compete in this one event on both days. Even assuming without conceding that Radeesha and Coach Wilson were telling a pack of lies, what was the logic of having 6 events and then basing the selection only on the 50 metres timing. 

The basis of selection on the 50 metres then become curioser and curioser as Alice in Wonderland when by letter of 29th July 2000, the Selectors state that they took in the three best timings of Theekshana and Radeesha. 

50 Metre Free Style Average 

Theekshana 0.62 30.67 30.75 30.68
Radeesha 30.67 30.78 30.98 30.79

Now what the Selectors studiously omitted to take into consideration was Radeesha's performance in the 50 metres in Bangalore where she clocked a timing of 30.38 and her timing on the 25th of July 2000. at the Western Province Swimming Meet where she beat Theekshana and obtained a timing of 30.53. Now you don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the Western Province Swimming Meet was 4 days before the letter of 29th July 2000 where the Selectors had taken the allegedly best timings of Theekshana and Radeesha. If that be the case the timings would be as follows:- 

50 Metres Free Style Average

Theekshana's Timings 30.62 30.67 30.75 30.68
Radeesha's Timings 30.38 30.53 30.67 30.53 

The above statistics clearly show the machinations and mala fides of the Selectors of NAASU by which a young promising swimmer who could represent Sri Lanka at future Olympic, Asian and Commonwealth Games was not selected. 

In fairness to the NOC they could only go on the basis of the recommendations of the NAASU Selectors. 
- Rover.

Flojo's fashion revolution

Florence Griffith Joyner, the three-time gold medalist at the 1988 Summer Olympics who revolutionised women's sprinting with her searing speed and flamboyant fashion sense, died at her home in mission Viejo, California. She was 38. Greg Foster a former Champion hurdler and a family friend, said he had spoken with Griffith Youner's husband, Al Joyner, and with her sister-in-law, the track star Jackie Joyner Kersee, and had been told that Griffith Joyner was believed to have suffered a heart seizure.

A decade after her shattering achievements in track and field, Griffith Joyner's sprint records still stand, and many feel they will carry into the next century, known by the abbreviation "Flojo" - even her name was fast - she set the world record for 100 metres at 10.49 seconds at the 1988 Olympic trials in Indianapolis, then established the mark of 21.34 seconds in winning the 200 m. at the 1988 Summer games in Seoul, South Korea, where Griffith Joyner also won gold in the 100 metres and the 4x100 metre relay. She also took a silver medal in the 4x400 metres relay.

Not only did Joyner run considerably faster than any woman before her or since. She displayed a spectacular flashiness in the way she ran, dressing in one-legged spandex body suits and wearing six-inch long, elaborately decorated fingernails, after retiring in 1988.

She designed the uniforms of the Indiana pacers of the National Basketball Association and she also served as-co-chair of the President's Council on physical fitness. She set the world record in the 100 metres on July 16,1988. On a day of swirling wind in Indianapolis the mark of 10.49 seconds was astonishing. It broke Evelyn Ashford's previous record by 27 - hundredth of a second. In the era of electronic timing, the women's 100 metres record had never been lowered by more than 13-hundredths of a second. That the wind gauge on the track read 0.0 meaning there was no tailwind or headwind, struck many as illogical, considering that the wind gauge on the nearby triple jump runway showed a reading well above the allowable evading wind of 4.47 miles an hour.

Only now are Joyner's records even being approached. Sprint queen Marion Jones of the United States ran the 100 in 10.65 seconds and the 200m. in 21.62. But even with her present dominance Jones is still tenths of a second away from Joyner's records. Which might as well be miles, considering that personal bests are usually lowered by hundredths of a second at a time.

The following is a brief fact file on Florence Griffith-Joyner.

Name:- Delorez Florence Griffith, later Griffith Joyner after marriage to 1984 Olympic triple jump champion Al Joyner. Born December 21, 1959, Grew up in the Los Angeles neighbourhood of Watts and began running at the age of 7 with Sugar Ray Robinson. Worked as a bank teller until she was spotted by sprint coach Bob Kersee who helped her get funding to study degree in business and psychology at UCLA.

1983: Came to world attention when she was placed fourth in 200m. at world championships 1984 Silver medal in 200m. at L.A.Olympics,1984,running with famous six-inch painted finger nails. 1986: Went back to working in a bank and as a beautician but returned to serious training in 1987.

1987: Finished second in World Championships 200m.

1988: smashed the 100m. world record in quarterfinal for the U.S. trials, clocking a time of 10.49 seconds. The next day won the final in 10.61. Acquired nickname Flojo. In opening round of Olympics 100m. she set an Olympic record of 10.86 secs. 

She won the final in 10.54 secs. She also set a world record in the 200 m. of 21.34 secs. Both the 100 and 200 records still stand. Went on to win three golds (100m., 200m. and 4x100 relay) and one silver. Voted U.S. Olympic Committee's Sports Woman of the year 1988.

February 25, 1988: announced retirement. September 21, 1988: Died at home in Laguna Beach, California, U.S. -Thushara Kumarasinghe

(New York Times, Sports illustrated)

The writer of this article received several nasty telephone calls and threats

What ails National Amateur Aquatic Sports Union?

'No one knows what records are maintained, and what records are updated to reflect the trend of record breaking. Never have naasu published a list of records as a part of an annual report for the benefit of the public as perpetual records ought to be kept..'
By Annesley Ferreira 
This expose on "What ails naasu" put together by this writer, was essentially a part of a larger collection of points of view, suggestions, criticism and more importantly, what can be done to put naasu on a course for the improvement and upliftment of our declining and decaying aquatic sports. Doing the piece, this writer received nasty telephone calls, including threats, which we ignored to serve the larger interest of the sport.

As stated earlier, there is no swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming, the four main components of aquatic sports of the Olympic Games and the world championships - if not for the enthusiasm of the kids swimming at school level. Adult swimming championships are a joke and the most lacklustre of national championships held in Sri Lanka, despite the glamour and importance the sport commanded and enjoyed in the past.

No one knows what records are maintained, and what records are updated to reflect the trend of record breaking. Never have naasu published a list of records as a part of an annual report for the benefit of the public as perpetual records ought to be kept. Clubs such as the Colombo Swimming Club and the Otter Aquatic Club have displayed on the club-house panels records held by their members over the years. It is heartening to see the champions of the past when visiting these clubs and must be commended for their keeping the statistical aspects of swimming on a permanent basis.

Naasu has no inventory of its possessions; particularly challenge trophies that matter to the public. To examine some of these awards, let's start with the popular non-standard annual two mile sea-swim, conducted opposite Mount Lavinia Hotel's north side beach which invokes innumerable memories of past high class swimmers. Would naasu know why the "hpn" challenge trophy was on offer for the "aggregate points score"? The common reference to "hpn" is "Half-Past Nine" indicating that the sea swim is completed within ninety minutes - the swim always commencing at 0800 hours and ending at 0930 hours. 

That was not what the "hpn" trophy represented - it was for "Harry P. Nightingale", the founder of the Fishtail Aquatic Club, the doyen of aquatic sports in Sri Lanka and the amiable personality from Australia that flourished the concept of life saving on the beach opposite Siripala Road, Mount Lavinia. Other trophies presented were the "Tomlinson Challenge Cup, Dr. H.T. Anthoniz Challenge Cup, the Mount Lavinia Hotel Challenge Cup" and the "Bata Challenge Cup." Where have all these presitigious trophies gone? The array of trophies for the national championships are so impressive that it would be impossible to record them in this expose. But let's ask what naasu is doing to restore those who dedicated their lives for the furtherance of swimming in our tiny country.

Whatever happened to Mercantile swimming and diving championships is a bewildering question. Reviewing the sixteen (16) trophies in these championships shows the level of organization and command they occupied with some of the most powerful blue chip establishments taking pride in supporting this sport among the mercantile sector.

Public Schools swimming and diving were of such level of competition, that some events had as much as ten or more heats. The array of popular challenge trophies for presentation were truly flattering and privileged to win and garner the accompanying trophy. All this is lost almost forever!

Water polo had four divisions of competition, the "Eshelby Challenge Cup" for the premier league tournament - the top award for this discipline of aquatic sports. This was fiercely fought between the Otter Aquatic Club and the old Thomians's swimming club in the late '50s and early '60s, with an occasional threat from Fishtail Aquatic Club, Colombo Swimming Club and Kinross Swimming and Life Saving Club. By far the most popular tournament at the second level, referred to as the "B" league, was the "Ellawela Challenge Cup". The keenness of this league meant that each club brought their own cheering squad, lo and behold had they to play S. Thomas' College on a Sunday noon time match. Former Water polo star and Secretary of the Ceylon Amateur Swimming Association had presented the "David Vast Challenge Cup" for a knock-out tournament. 

Live wire and commentator Clive Pearcy who gave much of his energy to flourish Water Polo presented the trophy "Clive Pearcy Challenge Cup" to give fillip to the underdog and novices that could not gain team participation at the above tournaments.

Water Polo is a disgrace in naasu's aquatic calendar. If not for the enthusiasm of the young Thomians and Royal College Sports Union, Water Polo is almost dead. Ageing spent-force players hang on and continue to dominate the scene and enjoy foreign trips and those who go on merit are hopelessly outclassed. Water Polo is a game that should attract swimmers growing old out of their competitive involvement so that their speed and other skills can be honed to become powerful Water Polo players. Without the ability to swim and stamina, a Water Polo player is a sorry sight. 

Diving was not only a highly technical discipline of aquatics sports but breathtaking to Watch when performed with by an array of superstars excelling in it. Allan Smith represented Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games. Then came along Jeb Jebararajah, Lucky Senanayake, Sabri Jafferjee, Devinda Kaluphana, Mahinda Liyanage and more recently Gihan Ranatunga. Of those who excelled in the recent past was Janaka Biyanwila who was trained by world famous Hobie Billingsley of Indiana University, Indianapolis. Though he represented Sri Lanka, Janaka was not even successful at regional level, however he won several golds at sub-regional level where diving is almost extinct. Akry Ameer and Faiz Mohamed were two young divers that could be developed to bring our low diving standards to some level if they are given the opportunity of scholarships to those countries that excel in diving. A former president of naasu spent some of his own funds to send Faiz to Atlanta, United States, so that naasu could hold the 9th Asiapac Diving Competition in Colombo.

One of the most pleasing and appealing of all aquatic sports is synchronized swimming. This expose salutes two people that did a marvellous job to proliferate synchronized swimming. Of the two Babara Flamer-Caldera was undoutedly superb. Barbara gave scintilating and breathtaking exhibitions of synchronized swimming in Sri Lanka until she and her highly talented children emigrated to Australia. Barbara's husband Markie, was also an outstanding swimmer and administrator. Markie was for several years president of the Otter Aquatic Club, the premier swimming club at that time. With Barbara was Betty de Saram, who was a tower of strength to Barbara. Often we hear of synchronized swimming but never what it was. More recently, Julien de Saram Bandaranaike (daughter of Betty's) held classes and did much to promote synchronized swimming, but the morons of naasu could not understand this discipline to give her encouragement to keep synchronized swimming alive. Synchronized swimming is a highly specialized discipline of aquatic sports and no more than few, would say less than five, would know this sport, because of the many technicalities it involves - can bet that there are no qualified judges for this sport. 

The Bombay/Colombo dual swimming and diving meet was highly popular, as swimmers and divers looked forward to this annual exchange. In the early sixties there were several swimming squads visiting Colombo for duals and triangulars. Naasu has not been able to organize such exchanges, though they send teams overseas, increasing the poverty of aquatic sports.

The intention of this expose was to present to our readership the hopeless situation of aquatic sports and naasu's inability over the years to arrest the decline and decay. The Millennium 2000 Sydney Olympic Games is scheduled for Friday September 15, 2000, and this writer would be leaving for Sydney to cover these games for this paper. Those in authority have kept the writer's nomination out to be a part of the official Sri Lankan contingent - and yet all of them profess to be Olympian sportsmen - Olympian sportsmen are expected to rise above pettiness and behave as such. The Olympic Games are all about fairness, transparency and equality.

Suggestions and comments continue to come on this expose and would urge the readership to keep doing so at least for the record. Lastly, the sports desk and this writer wish to thank all those who took the time to respond to this expose, including those who took a different view, hurling insults and threats - which we believe is a part of democratic sports journalism, and have to deal with them accordingly. We sincerely hope that naasu would review the findings of this expose and quickly remedy the fast eroding trend of aquatic sports. 


Countdown to the Olympics - 4 days [25]

Wish you well, Lankan Olympians!

By Annesley Ferreira
We began the "Countdown to the Olympics" series with the first article appearing on Sunday March 12, 2000. Though this is numbered 25, there were however 27 of them. 

The series covered a spectrum of the modern Olympic Games, and included legends of the games, athletes of the century, ioc reforms, anti-doping menace, chronicling the games, giving a synopsis of all the games held in the last 100 years.

In just four days you will be among billions of tv viewers witnessing the first Millennium 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, with one of the most spectacular opening ceremonies ever in the 104 years of this great sports extravaganza.

Sri Lanka will be sending by far the largest contingent to these games - and one could term that some of the selections to form this contingent do not deserve representation.

Olympic Games are special to those who toil for years to make to the games. 

For some the waiting has special rewards and personal accomplishments - and for those who would not make it, their's a despair, unfathomable - because by the time the next games comes along it will be too long and worn out to give it another try.

This is the last of these series. We take this opportunity to wish our Sri Lankan Olympic contingent the best in their endeavour to achieve their personal best at the ideal surroundings and setting of an Olympic environment, in an electrified arena to give one's best. 

Who knows one may even make it to the semi-finals, finals or by a long shot, a medal and not let Duncan White's silver at the 1948 London Olympiad perpetuate itself forever. 

I also thank Duncan White Sports Foundation Trustee, C. Vijitha Fernando, for his patient research and providing substantially the statistical information for these series. His was a great effort in this respect. 

Enjoy the Millennium 2000 Sydney Olympics - and make sure to cheer our Olympic contingent as heartily as you possibly can. Sri Lanka's 19-member contingent to the Millennium 2000 Sydney Olympics are: 

Track and Field: 

Damayanthi Darsha (Overall Captain) - 200, 400 and 4 x 100 meters. 

Susanthika Jayasinghe - 100, 200 and 4 x 100 meters. 

Sriyani Kulawansa - 110 hurdles and 4 x 100 meters. Pradeepa Herath, Nimmi de Soyza and Tamara S. Deepika - 4 x 100 meters.

Sugath Tilakaratne and Rohan Pradeep Kumara - 400 and 4 x 400 meters. 

R. Wimalawansa, V. Ratnekumara, a.s.a. Fernando and M. Lanka Perera - 4 x 400 meters. 

Harijan Ratnayaka - 400 hurdles. 

Sarath Gamage - Marathon (26 miles 385 yards or 42.2 kilometers). 


Conrad Francis - 100 Butterfly and Theekshana Ratnasekera - 50 Freestyle. 


Malini Wickremasinghe - Air Rifle and Ruwani Abeymanne - Pistol. 


Lalin Jirasinghe - Finn Class. 

(In association with C. Vijitha Fernando, Trustee, Duncan White Sports Foundation)


Kandy schools on their marks

The rugby deluge - be it international or local - is subsiding quietly and in its place comes cricket. The five months period of hibernation is over and schoolboy cricketers are no doubt in the process of creasing their creams, whitening their boots and dusting the cobwebs of their last season's pads and gloves.

School cricket in Kandy has been given added impetus by the deeds of Weeraratne and Sangakkara, both of whom emerged from the same stable. Unfortunately, that august institution has seen better days, cricketwise and has had to come to terms with their developing down to the second division.

Rivals, Anthonians, have soared to the top division. Led by that swashbuckling batsman Samson Burke, they have the makings of a good side. However, the bowling appears to be their weaker suit. Runs should come from Burke, last year's skipper Nafiz Nizam, Supun Muthukuda and junior Sri Lanka player Prasad Ranawaka. Lahiru Fonseka heads the pace department. Free-scoring youngster Tyronne de Silva could well give the third term matches a miss on account of exams. Dissension was rife last year but this did not impede their progress. Anthonian victories have recently been few and far-between. Can their new coach help them become victorious?

He may not have reproduced those mind boggling feats of his junior days, but sixth year player Chanaka Wijesinghe who captains the team, remains one of St. Sylvester's top match cricketers. Wijesinghe has another string to his bow, being a purveyor of crafty cutters. Off spinner Harsha Wijeratne and left armer Kenneth Udawatte will handle the spin department. Stumper Jaliya Weerasinghe, Mohamed Rifai, Srimal Matararachchi and Pradeep Athauda are the other players of note.

All in all it is a competent side whose fortress could well revolve around those of the leader.

Newcomers to division two, Trinity do battle with another team from the same division, Sri Rahula, in Kandy's curtain raiser. Skipper Rodrigo, a neat batsman leads the Trinitians who will look to the experience of Weeraratne, Rajaratne, Gamage, Chandran and spinner Dissanayake to come good. Certainly they are no easy-beats. However, their look of exceptional talent could go against them.

En passant, Trinity's gesture in providing a fixture to Sri Rahula must be applauded.

The Rajans, as usual, should not be short of runs. But their bugbear - the lack of penetration - could continue to haunt them. They are led by left arm medium pacie Anuradha Jayasundera who will be striving to lead from the front by picking up early wickets. Deputy Haresh Ratnayake, fresh from his recently gained laurels, was a consistent scorer last season. 

In random with Muditha Wijekoon he provided many good starts. All rounder Nirmal Wickremaratne is an impressive all round cricketer whose performances will have a great bearing on his team's fortunes. Left arm spinner Manjula Herath has a tough task filling the boots of last year's skipper Marapone. Amal Silva, Kanishka Weerasuriya and Jayampath Chandratilleka should come to the fore as the season rolls on.

Having had a brief taste of division one cricket, Kingswood continues to play in the second division. Last year, they played unyielding cricket which was tough though probably not all that attractive. Chamara Seneviratne is the likely skipper, while Milinda Wattegedara, Buddhika Ekanayake together with seamer Mousoon will be called upon to shoulder a lot of responsibility.

Vidyartha found wickets hard to come by last season in the absence of their star, Sarath Ranaweera. The same could well be true this season. Sanjay Nanayakkara, the skipper, and his brother, Harsha, will be the main performers in a hard-working side. In addition, Thamila Liyanage, Sujith Perera, Stumper Nilam, Spinner Dunusinghe, Duminda Wekadapola and Kulasekera are the others on whom their hopes would rest.

Upul Samankumara, a third year, leads Sri Rahula who were unbeaten last season. Runs can be expected from the skipper, Asitha Kumara (a cricketer with a lot of talent). Ratnayake, Priyadarshana and stumper Lalindra Samaradivakara. The last named has improved in both departments. All rounder Damakage, a good hitter and last season's chief wicket-taker Buddika Gunasena will have to perform at their best with the new ball. Left arm spinner Pieris has recently developed some variety. Youngster Samitha Fernando shows promise. It is a competent side but they will have to play much harder.


NSW Foundation to assist needy schools

By Bernie Wijesekera
The Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation, Sydney (Australia) has donated cricket gear (approximately) worth Rs. 10 to 15,000 will be distributed among the deserving and needy schools in the outstations.

A 20-foot container of used cricket equipment (as good as new) was collected and shipped to Sri Lanka August. 24, according to Harry Solomon's Managing Director Kings grove Sports Centre.

This donation made by Australians to Sri Lanka as part of their fellowship and community service to help needy youngsters from the rural schools where there is talent aplenty is a commendable gesture.

The collection was co-ordinated by the former St. Aloysius, Galle sportsman Harry Solomons to promote and help Sri Lankan sportsmen. His firm regularly helps with donations (by way of equipment), not only to his alma mater, but especially to other schools in the district. Harry also helped his old schoolmate the late Royal Barthelot with similar equipment to Rathdoluwa M.V. where Royal did much to promote the game.

According to solomons it was a joint project. Kingsgrove Sports Centre, Sri Lanka Foundation (NSW) contributed the major share to make it a reality. While the balance came from individual donations and clubs in N.S.W.

Solomons commended Bertram Jayasuriya, Director of Mercantile Shipping, for his gesture in organising and paying for the container gear to be shipped to Sri Lanka.

Trevor Chappell and Sri Lanka skipper Sanath Jayasuriya, will assist in the distribution of the gear only to worthy poor schools in the outstations. He further stressed that the Australian High Commission in Sri Lanka and its deputy H.C. Mrs. Kathy Klugman played a decisive role for this venture to become a reality. Former Test player Trevor Chappell presently Sri Lanka's fielding coach, too had a big hand. The SLCF, of NSW is headed by Errol Graham, Michael Berman (Sec.), Mrs. Pauline Gunawardena (tres.), like their counterparts in Victoria are doing much for the promotion of sports and community service. Solomons, one time planter who played rugby for Kelani Valley, is a committee member of the Foundation.


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