Young can write volumes about the Lankan Olympians. That is not for their achievements, but, the sick culture that they have inculcated within. We had four athletes who qualified and altogether there were nine in total. Yet, the Rio contingent totaled to at least half a plane load and most of them were freeloaders. Yet, [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Olympics for Official(s)’ FOC jaunt, while Athletes ‘also ran’


Young can write volumes about the Lankan Olympians. That is not for their achievements, but, the sick culture that they have inculcated within. We had four athletes who qualified and altogether there were nine in total. Yet, the Rio contingent totaled to at least half a plane load and most of them were freeloaders. Yet, it is said that some who really should have been were left out.  We question when would this masquerade end and sanity prevail?

Sugath Thilakaratne
(Participated in Atlanta and Sydney Olympics,  President – Sri Lanka Athletic Association)

“From the nine-member team that went to the Rio Olympics, only four qualified. Of the qualified four, three were Athletes. We cannot be satisfied at all with the performances of the three Athletes. Of the three Athletes, marathon runners Anuradha Indrajith Cooray and Geethani Rajasekara, and Javelin thrower Sumedha Ranasinghe, only Cooray performed creditably. But all three could not achieve ‘personal best’ times. At an Olympics, nobody can give excuses for their poor performance. They train better for Olympics, than for any other sporting event in the world. Geethani finished the Women’s marathon 30 min. later than her personal best time. Sumedha was twelve meters short of his personal best throw in the Javelin. Anuradha finished the marathon three min. later than his personal best time. Despite providing all the facilities, they failed to give their best. We have a very proud history in Athletics.

We have won medals at the Olympics, World Championships, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, Asian Championship and South Asian Games (SAG), yet, our performance at the Rio Olympics was poor and not a good example for our future Athletes. It was disappointing to note that no Athletic official was included in the Olympic entourage. I am not saying that Sugath Thilakaratne should be given a chance, but that chance should have been given either to me, or my secretary, or any other senior official. What the National Olympic Committee (NOC) did was grossly unfair. In previous Olympics, there was an Athletic official present. The person really responsible for this issue is the NOC Secretary. Despite this matter being highlighted to the Minister of Sports, he never gave a proper reply, but totally avoided it.

However, some outsiders went to the Olympics as Athletic officials. For taking outsiders as officials, the NOC and the Ministry of Sports should be held totally responsible for wasting public money. What did these officials really do at the Olympics? Did they gain any valuable information by attending the Rio Olympics? Did they at least watch our Athletes performing there? When Anuradha Indrajith Cooray was running the marathon, some of the Athletic officials had already returned to Sri Lanka. Many so called Athletic officials did not watch our Athletes perform, and they did not gain anything from the Olympics. What is the example we can get from them? This is like using public money to have a great holiday once in 4 years,”.

K.L.F. Wijedasa
(Former Sri Lanka Athletic Record Holder  and Retired Director- Sports, University of Colombo)

“Especially for any international Sporting event, a Doctor and a Team Manager should be included in the entourage. For the Rio Olympics, that tradition was completely violated by us. For this, the NOC and the Ministry of Sports should be held responsible. From this incident, we can observe that the Ministry of Sports has danced according to the NOC’s tune. For any team, a Team Manager is important. The Team Manager performs the main role. Any objection should be sent via the Team Manager. There is an allegation that 40 or more officials went for the Olympics. It’s a shameful accusation. To date, the NOC or the Ministry of Sports haven’t given a clear answer. The NOC should respond to this accusation without fail. They must either say “Yes” or “No”.

The NOC and the Ministry of Sports should jointly act in a very transparent manner. The money that was to be spent for the development of Sports, has been utilised for the officials. This is indeed a crime. The NOC and the Ministry of Sports should disclose the money spent, to the public. If any Sports official travels abroad, he should send a report to the Ministry of Sports. We expect these reports to be released as soon as possible. We know the Ministry of Sports acts against the Sports law and it’s policies. Today, the integrity and transparency within Sports bodies has been completely violated with no witnesses. The Ministry of Sport always meddles in the affairs of all Sports bodies. In other countries, the Ministry of Sport is there to develop it’s Sports. But, in this country, what they do best is meddle in others affairs.”

Susil Ranasinghe
(Assistant Secretary- NOC)

“The same thing happened repeatedly, except for the Olympics in 1948 and 2000. Except for Niluka Karunaratne in Badminton and Kimiko Raheem in Swimming, the others were knocked out in the 1st Round itself. In Athletics, Javelin thrower Sumedha Ranasinghe had a great opportunity to be in the first 7 of his event, if he had performed to his best. Sumedha, qualified for the Olympics with a throw of 83.04 metres, but in the Olympics, his 1st Round throw was 71.93 metres, 12 metres short of his personal best. If he had cleared 81 meters, he obviously, would have been in the qualifying 12. The Finnish athlete who cleared 83.05 metres, finished 6th, while the Czech who cleared 82.51 metres finished 7th. Our athletes always excel at the qualifiers, but don’t maintain the momentum to win a medal.

We cannot win an Olympic medal by barely training for 2-3 months. We cannot say who is at fault, whether its the Athlete or the administration. If we really want to impress at the Olympics, we need to identify the Sport in which our Athletes have a chance of winning medals. Then we should categorise them and give them long term training. We should select the best Athletes and send them for the Olympics, World Championships, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and Asian Championships. But for the SAG all the Athletes (the best and the rest) should participate. The best example we can give is, at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, our Beach Volleyball team defeated the home team. But, after 10 years, the Qataris qualified for the Rio Olympics and progressed to the quarter-final stage, before losing to Russia”.

On the Officials’ participation, from the Ministry of Sports, the Minister, Ministry Secretary and Director General, from the NOC, the President and Secretary should participate, along with the National Selection Committee Chairman. The NOC Secretary participated in the recent Olympics as Chef de Mission as well. He has done a double acting role, getting the whole benefit out of it. He has done a grave injustice by taking the opportunity of another official. There are some NOC officials who have gone to the Olympics since Atlanta in 1996. This is unfair by the rest of the NOC officials. This opportunity to participate at the Olympics, should have given to all NOC officials. This year, there was no doctor in our entourage. It was a big blunder by the NOC, for which the Ministry of Sports too should be held responsible.

Yogananda Wijesundera
(Retired Director- Institute of Sports Science)

” I can give an example of vision and determination. This particular Athlete is none other than Singaporean Swimmer Joseph Schooling who participated at the Rio Olympics as a ‘wild card’ entry. He went onto defeat the undisputed favourite for the 100 metres Butterfly- the legendary US Swimmer Michael Phelps- to the Gold. Phelps ended his Olympic career with an all-time record of 23 Golds. Despite our Athletes qualifying from Grade ‘B’, their main aim is to qualify, to travel abroad and earn money, not win medals. Our Javelin thrower who cleared 83.04 metres for Olympic qualification, could not win Gold at the SAG held months before. This clearly shows our Athletes have no vision or determination. In our country, we have seen, before attempting to win a Cup, composing theme songs. This happens especially in Cricket. In other countries, we see their national flag flown high after winning a major championship.

At the recent Olympics, a Sri Lankan coach said his Athlete’s poor performance was due to fear. So, for those Athletes who are scared, no coaches should be sent, only ‘magicians’ (kattadiyas). I have come to know that for 9 Athletes, 42 officials traveled to Rio. It was disgraceful to note that a leading Sports journalist in the country, changed his credentials to pose off as a coach. So, we see journalists who write on clean and fair Sports, stoop to the lowest level. The NOC should take total responsibility for this incident of not taking the opportunity to send a suitable person to Rio. It has also been observed that many officials’ children too travelled to Rio. It is disgusting to take the facilities of officials. The NOCis meant to serve Sports, but finally it seems, from these incidents, they are selling the Sport for a living.”

Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.