1st October 2000
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Clarification :
The Sunday Times inadvertently made a major faux pas in its editorial last week referring to the Bangladesh Prime Minister as Khalida Zia when it is Begum Hasina. We had no intention of changing Governments in Bangladesh, and sincerely regret the error. The comments in the Editorial based on the facts of a bomb explosion in Dhaka, however, remain accurate

Susie's Feat

From the hottest fire comes the finest steel and Susanthika Jayasinghe's fabulous feat at the Sydney Olympics really did steal the show not only for millions of Sri Lankans but for all of Asia.

Never since the 1996 World Cup victory have Sri Lankans here and abroad rejoiced so much and were able to smile through the tears of war and difficulty. 

The saga of Susie as she is affectionately called is the stuff found in novels and would be good material for a Hollywood film of a poor rubber tapper's mischievous tomboy daughter who soared to stardom through a storm .

At the Olympic village in Sydney itself Sri Lanka's chef-de-mission who is also the President of the Amateur Athletics Association who takes the lead in running down Susanthika Jayasinghe has gone on record saying he believed she would not even enter the semi-finals. Just before the contingent left for Sydney this official had accused Susanthika Jayasinghe of violating rules and created a situation whereby she was forced to withdraw from the women's relay team. This official should be censured forthwith for his utterances obviously propelled by a burning desire to stooge the VIPs who have persecuted Susanthika Jayasinghe. Her remarks at the victory press conference "they gave me trouble- I gave them a bronze medal" should ring in their ears for a long time to come. While most people in Sri Lanka were praying for Susanthika Jayasinghe to win a medal, some scoundrels were preying on her persecuting her and trying to destroy her.

The Panjandrums or the Pandankarayas of the Sports Ministry had turned Susanthika Jayasinghe's life into a living hell - allegedly trapping her into a dope scandal and debarring her from the Sports Ministry training ground besides other forms of harassment. We at The Sunday Times know what pariahs they can be when they refused to give their imprimatur for our own Sports Editor to get accreditation for the Sydney Olympics because he has been critical of the Minister and his officials.

This is the way the Sports Ministry of this country is run according to the whims and fancies of a cabal. Yet they have all now been brought to the feet of Susanthika Jayasinghe and it is a vulgar joke to see them trying to wash her feet now. Our Sports Editor was also there like Susanthika Jayasinghe on his own steam to witness the historic event. 

What is the moral or inspiration Sri Lankans could draw from Susanthika Jayasinghe's historic achievement in Sydney?

It would be that individually every Sri Lankan could achieve greater heights internationally even if he or she is crucified at home due to petty party politics or iron-fisted officialdom of this country. In this country if you are not with them, you are considered against them. Party labels are stuck on you even if you have nothing to do with party politics. Susanthika was labelled too - as a UNPer because she rebelled against the advances of the Sports Ministry. 

That is why so many Sri Lankans have had to go overseas and are doing well there. Not only the Tamils who feel persecuted and lost, but even the Sinhalese who generally feel there is no place in the Sun in this country if they have rubbed the Almighty VIPs on the wrong side of their ego. 

These pigmies who we see today criss-crossing the country begging for the people's vote must have their Himalayan egos massaged or else it will be hell.

Whether or not Susanthika Jayasinghe and our Olympic team get a hero's welcome is not certain. No doubt the rich and famous will want to get photographed with them. They will want to host them and spoil them like they did with our cricketers. But one thing is certain, the Sports Minister and his officials are not going to do a victory lap with Susanthika Jayasinghe from Katunayake to Temple Trees like they did in the silver glow of the Athens games in 1996.Susanthika Jayasinghe defied the rude warnings and wore the yellow band for a free and fair election during the blazing runs in Sydney. Why the Sports Ministry officials objected to this is left for conjecture. But it showed her character. While we thank her for her contribution to the restoration of national pride it is left to the powers that be, present and future, to take notice of the moral of Susie's amazing feat .

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