Rowing history was created in Sri Lanka when Bolgoda Lake Rowing Club (BLRC) and Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) organised the first even indoor rowing championship, the inaugural Bolgoda Indoor Rowing Championship (BIRC) earlier this month at the BLRC premises at Bolgoda, Moratuwa.
The inaugural Bolgoda Indoor Rowing Championship, a concept of former Sri Lankan rowing captain Chanaka Talpahewa, was a huge success attracting over 350 entries and 150 participants for the 16 events worked out for men and women.
This was despite the fact that there was a restriction on the number of entries per institutions. Speaking to the Sunday Times Talpahewa, who was the Chairman of the Organizing Committee, said that the large number of participants and the unprecedented enthusiasm shown by the competitors as well as spectators proves that this event has fulfilled a vacuum that existed in the sport for years and has definitely turned a new page in the sport of rowing.
The competition consisted of seven age categories, elite and a masters categories and an endurance event and was held over two days.
In the overall medal tally KDU coached by Chanaka Talpahewa and assisted by Lasantha Welikala emerged the leading medal winner with seven Gold medals out of the 20 won closely followed by S. Thomas with six Gold medals and Musaeus College with five gold. The Vice Chancellor of the KDU, Major General Milinda Peiris speaking to Sunday Times said that KDU always envisaged the development of this sporting event and therefore came forward to organize this championship which will become a much looked forwarded annual event.
In the age group 32-38 category when two competitors Nirmal Gunaratne of KDU and A.S. Amaradasa of the SL Navy clocked the best timings on the two ergo-meters which were identical to the mili seconds.
The competition also witnessed a proper opening ceremony with the championship being declared opened and competitors taking the oath as well as a proper closing ceremony which was well attended.
The closing ceremony also witnessed another first with the launching of a locally constructed rowing pair by BLRC. This is the first time in the history of the sport a fibre glass rowing pair boat has been locally constructed.
Speaking to Sunday Times President of BLRC Sithira Wickramasekare said this boat has been built according to FISA (International Rowing Federation) dimensions and the launching of this low cost boat is another step towards to make the sport more accessible for students and enthusiast from less affluent environments.
The newly appointed Minister of Sports, C. B. Ratnayaka has shown a keen interest in this championship and has been following this event closely.
He sent a special message which was read out by the Secretary of Ministry of Sports, S. Liyanagama who was the Chief Guest at the Closing Ceremony. Maxwell de Silva, Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee was the Guest of Honour at the closing ceremony.