Running along memory lane

Royal College 175 year celebrations

By Summa Navaratnam

Entering Royal 1st form at the age of 11 from the Royal Primary, then known as The Training College, in 1937, the main games that we were introduced to at this level were Cricket, Boxing and Tennis. Rugby was to come when we were 3 years older.

Athletics, as track and field was then known, was a once a year affair when the Annual Inter House Sports Meet was held. To spot track and field talent, the form races were introduced and later the standard tests were also introduced as an annual event. Unlike Cricket and Boxing in Athletics in the early years, we were left to our own devices as far as training went. Except for the relay events if you happened to be in one of the relay teams, then senior boys of the House together with the House Masters would help in the Baton changing.

At the early age, there were no organized practices and our only training was when we played other games during the interval or just after School before we went home.

The first organized training that I received was when I was selected to be a member of the Royal College 4 x 110 yards relay team under the School Coach in 1940. I was 14 at that time. The Athletic Captain was Owen Wambeek who was a hurdler and high jumper. He was also my House Captain.
The 4 x 110 yards Relay team comprised of Gamini Salgado, Aeneas Perera, Benjamin Wilson and myself whilst, the 4 x 440 yards Relay Team comprised of Gamini Salgado, Desmond Gunasekera, E.M. Aldons and H.T. Gunasekera.

Royal excelled at the Western Group and at the All Island Public Schools Athletic Meet, by winning the “Tarbat Challenge Trophy ” for all round performance which included individual and the relay events and the “Jefferson Trophy” for the relays. This performance was repeated the following year in 1941 when Royal once again became the Champion School in Athletics when they won these two Trophies again.

With Japan entering the World War II, in April, 1942, the Royal College premises were taken over by the Royal Air Force and converted into a Military Hospital. The students of Royal who decided to remain in Colombo went to the relocated College in 4 Houses down Turret Road which is now called Dharmapala Mawatha.

In 1942 following the Air Raid on Colombo in April 1942, School and Inter School Athletics were suspended. In 1943, the Public Schools Athletic Meet was revived and the Royal Athletes had to go over to the University grounds or the Police Park for practices. They had to carry their own equipment such as: hurdles, put shot, discuss, etc., from Turret Road to these grounds and take them back after practices. I was honoured by being given the Captaincy of Athletics for that year and with the help of other students, we managed to win both the “Tarbat” and the “Jefferson” Trophies.

Royal had just won these two trophies for three years running. In 1943, the total School roll was 508, Colombo 422 and Bandarawela 86. Extract from 1943 Christmas Term Royal College Magazine.
( Awarded Sampson Challenge Cup) . ” Unquote

I left School Mid 1944 prior to the Public School’s Meet and ended my School Athletic carrier. However, I had great pleasure in Coaching and helping in the Coaching of subsequent Royal College Athletic Teams which won honors at these Meets

Summa Navaratnam was the Royal College Athletics Captain in 1942 & 1943.

Inter-House Meet
4 x 110 Yards Relay ( Under 14) : 1. Hartley, 2. Boake
4 x 110 Yards Relay ( Under 16) : 1. Harward, 2. Boake
4 x 110 Yards Relay ( Open) : 1. Boake, 2. Harward
4 x 440 Yards Relay ( Open) : 1. Boake, 2. Hartley
Cave Challenge Cup ( Under 14 Championship) : G. Weinman
Kotelawala Challenge Cup ( Under 16 Championship) : R.M.S. de Silva
Marlowe Reed Challenge Cup ( Open Champion) : S. Navaratnam
Girdwood Challenge Cup for Junior Relays : Boake House
Christofelsz Shield for Senior Relays : Boake House
Van Geyzel Shield for Champion House : Boake House
Wijeyratne Challenge Cup for Best Performance : S. Navaratnam
( awarded on results of the Public School’s Meet , for his performance in the 220 yards)
Western Group ( South) Meet
220 Yards : 1st S. Navaratnam , 3rd R.M.S. de Silva
440 Yards : 1st S. Navaratnam
880 Yards : 2nd H.C. Aldons
One Mile :2nd S. Wickramasuriya, 4th L. Wickramasinghe
120 Yards Hurdles : 1st J. Chanmugam
220 Yards Hurdles : 2nd F. Aldons, 4th C.O. Foenander
High Jump: 2nd H.C. Aldons , 3rd F. Aldons
Hop Step and Jump: 2nd H.C. Aldons , 4th B.D.M. de Moor
Pole vault : 1st N. Wickramasuriya , 2nd M. Kasipillai.
Putting the Weight : 4th N. Parameshwaran
4 x 110 Yards Relay: 1st Royal.
4 x 440 Yards Relay : 1st Royal.
Public Schools Championships
220 Yards : 1st S. Navaratnam
440 Yards: 1st S. Navaratnam
880 Yards : 3rd H.C. Aldons
Hop Step and Jump : 3rd H.C. Aldons
220 Yards Low Hurdles : 1st F. Aldons
School Relay 4 x 110 Yards : 1st Royal – (Team: R.M.S. de Silva, A. M. Cumaraswamy, G. Rajapakse and S. Navaratnam)
School Relay 4 x 440 Yards : 1st Royal – (Team: H.C. Aldons, E.V. Fernando,
R.M.S. de Silva and S. Navaratnam)
Tarbet Challenge Cup(Champion School) : Royal
Jefferson Challenge Cup (Relay Champions) : Royal
A. .A. A. Championships
440 Yards for Schools : 1st S. Navaratnam. Time : 53 secs.

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