Champion power-lifter Ransilu Jayathilake took a scathing attack on the national body for the sports and the Ministry of Sports over the lack of support and recognition they receive despite winning medals at the international stage.
Speaking on the eve of Sri Lanka team’s departure to Canada to take part at the Commonwealth Powerlifting Championships, he is hopeful of doing well despite the step-motherly treatment, the sports has received.
“So far 2019 has been one of the greatest years in Sri Lankan powerlifting history and as a team we have done well in the past year. Hopefully we can carry the momentum forward in to the Commonwealth Championship,” said the 32-year-old Jayathilake.
“As a senior athlete in the team, I have seen everything that has happened over the years. I love this sport and I have won medals on numerous occasions. My success is my motivation.
Jayathilake is among the five-member Sri Lanka squad for the event. The others are Nivendra Silva, (Sub Junior) Kakolya de Silva (Sub Junior), two open lifters, Indika Paranagama and Darin Weerasinghe and Marian De Zoysa (women).
There are two categories in the event, equipped powerlifting and classic powerlifting.
The athletes are hopeful that they could win medals in both categories.
Leading up to the commonwealth championships in Canada, Sri Lanka’s powerlifting team created history, when they emerged as the overall men’s champions at the Qualifying event for the World Powerlifting Championship held in Gold Coast, Australia.
After that they participated in the World Powerlifting Championship in Sweden and ranked 12th in the world.
“Since we are not an Olympic sports, we don’t get the support that other associations gets from the Sports Ministry. It’s a sad situation. We had a discussion with the Minister of Sports Harin Fernando when he took over in last December. This was just after we return home after winning medals in Mongolia. He promised to help us to improve the sport but as usual nothing happened,” a disappointed Jayathilake added.
“The most important thing is, the officials must learn to respect the sport. Powerlifting is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). By 2024, it will be there at the Olympics and I think we have a chance of winning a medal at the Olympics. We have dedicated so much for the sport but we don’t even have an insurance scheme. They even don’t have time to sit down and talk with us. This is sad. We are representing our nation and I would like to urge the responsible authorities to look after the future generation,” he continued.
On a positive note, the interim committee headed by Dr. Lal Ekanayake has shown keen interest to help the sports, but still there are other problems to address.
According to Ransilu, these problems are a huge hindrance to player performances, but they are confident in reaching greater heights.
Sri Lanka won the men’s World Championship in Gold coast, Australia. He recalled some memories from that competition.
“We were well prepared. After our success in Mongolia, we were confident leading up to the competition. We were like a family, we cheered each other and we had unity among us. That was the most important thing. As a result, we were able to win the championship” he recalled with a sense of satisfaction.
Ransilu praised his athletes for the commitment they have shown to the sport.
He urged them to continue their commitment in order fulfill their dreams.
The two sub junior lifters, Kakolya De Silva and Nivendra de Silva, both have shown potential at a young age--won their events at gold coast and it’s great for the future of powerlifting in Sri Lanka.
He also commended Marian De Zoysa for her commitment and the passion, she has shown over the years and he referred to her as the inspiration of the team.
“I have a lot of respect for Marian. Being a mother, she is committed to take the sport forward and she has sacrificed a lot since she took up this sport. She has won us many medals and she has shown a lot of courage. She is 10 kg behind the Asian record. I think she is reaping the rewards and I am confident that she will win a gold medal in the Commonwealth Championships,” he concluded.
As Ransilu and his team hunt for well-deserved glory, it is time the authorities lend a helping hand for the future generation to make their nation proud.
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