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13th February 2000

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Prime Minister visits Jaffna

In March 1974 when I returned to Vavuniya after the Layards Cup Rugby Tournament in which we were the runners-up and won the CP Wambeck Cup I received a message from Mr. Stanley Senanayake, the I.G.P, to meet D.I.G Mr. Rudra Rajasingham in Colombo on a Saturday at his residence to discuss the police stand on the position of Constitutional Clubs and the Affiliated Clubs in the Rugby Football Union.

The Constitutional Clubs then were CR &FC, CH&FC, Havelocks S.C., Kandy S.C., Dimbulla, Dickoya, Uva and K.V. The Affiliated Clubs were Police, Army, Navy, Air Force, Universities and Kandy Lake Club. The Constitutional Clubs had 2 votes at the Rugby Union including K.V which used to get thrashed by the Police by 80 points and 90 points. They too enjoyed this status whereas the Affiliated Clubs such as Police, Army and Air Force which had by then featured in several Cup Finals did not have even a single vote which was very unfair. In 1962 Army under the captaincy of Berty Dias held the mighty CH&FC led by John Evart to a 6-6 draw in the Clifford Cup Finals, but CH&FC were awarded the Clifford Cup for their unbeaten record in the league. In 1965 the Air Force captained by Jeff Ratnam entered the Finals against the CR&FC led by Sari de Sylva and was beaten 11-Nil. In 1967 the unbeaten police skippered by S. Sivendran entered the Clifford Cup Finals against Havelocks captained by Gamini Fernando and lost by 11 points to 3 points. In 1970 Police led by M.A. Majeed took on the Havelocks captained by Jeff Ratnam and shared the Clifford Cup with the scores deadlocked at 6-6.

In 1971 Police captained by Ibrahim Hamid again entered the Cup Finals and lost to CR&FC captained by Dushantha Samarasekera by 27 points to 6 points. In 1972 Police led by Anton Benedict won the Clifford Cup outright for the first time defeating CH&FC led by Y.C Chang by 12-9. In 1973 Police led by Nizam Hajireen shared the Clifford Cup with Army captained by S.P. de Silva with the score Army 19 Police 19. With all these brilliant performances the Police, Army and Air Force continued to be Affiliated Clubs with no voting rights.

When I met D.I.G Mr. Rudra Rajasingham at his residence, who too played rugger for Trinity College, CR&FC, Police and the Low Country along with Mr. P. Mahendran A.S.P who had played rugby for Royal, CR & FC, Police and Ceylon, we decided to oppose the existing system and to clamour for equal voting rights for all Clubs at the S.L.R.F.U meeting that was to be held the following day. Mr. Rudra Rajasingham led the Police delegation comprising P. Mahendran and myself and placed all the records of performance of the "so called" Affiliated Clubs as against the records of K.V Uva, Dimbulla, and Dickoya and made a plea for equal voting rights.

The entire house realized the unequal treatment that was being given to the Police, Army, Air Force and did away with the 2 votes to the Constitutional Clubs and gave one vote each for all the clubs and also did away with the Affiliated Club status to Police, Army, Navy, Air Force, the Universities and to Kandy Lake Club and made them all Constitutional Clubs.

After the meeting, Mr. Rudra Rajasinham told me that I should again come on transfer to Colombo and involve myself with Police rugger for which I agreed. When I went back to Vavuniya after the meeting I had a message from Police Headquarters that I have been transferred to Police Headquarters from May 1, 1974.

I with my wife and three little daughters boarded the night mail train from Vavuniya having luggaged my car in the train and having sent my two pet dashounds to my mother's home in Thunnalai as I was to live in the Police flats at Narahenpita and it was not proper to keep dogs in the flats. At Police Headquarters I was working in the Welfare Division headed by S.P A.M. Seneviratne who was affectionately called "Aana Maalu". The others were inspector Roy Selladorai who left the Police early and is now living with his family in East Finchly, London and Sub Inspector G.S. Ratnayake who was later promoted S.S.P. and was bodyguard to President D.B. Wijetunge.

During this period I was nominated to follow the Senior Detective Course which was held then to all Senior Inspectors for 3 months. The Course Director was Inspector Donald Mendis who later became S.S.P. and the Chief Lecturer was Inspector Richard Wijesekera who later went on to become D.I.G. Police Training where his father Lambert WIjesekera too was earlier the Chief Lecturer at the Police Training School.

Whilst I was at Police Headquarters the first ever visit to Jaffna by the Prime Minster Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike took place. I was detailed to give aerial security coverage by D.I.G. Northern Range Mr. Ana Seneviratne, I went to Jaffna in the D.I.G 's car with S.P Welfare A.M. Senviratne and at the Jaffna Central College where the large contingent of police officers who came on special duty were being detailed. D.I.G Ana Seneviratne said that I should go to the Palaly Airport and do aerial patrolling in a two seater Cesna beachcraft with an Air Force pilot. I then went to Palaly and rehearsed the aerial coverage from Palaly to Jaffna King's House where the Prime Minister was to stay prior to her arrival.

The day Prime Minister Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike was to arrive it was a very cloudy morning. I went up in the air in the Cesna plane armed with a motorola and a Sub machinegun and was carrying out my surveillance in anticipation of the arrival of the Prime Minister. As soon as the Prime Minister's plane arrived there was heavy rain. Major Denzil Kobbekaduwa who later went on to become the most decorated General and a hero in the Army and against whom I had played several games of exciting rugby was the Chief Security Officer for the P.M's visit to Jaffna and I was always in communication with him on my motorola. As we were up in the sky and the motorcade was on its way to Jaffna the sky became very cloudy and dark, and the Airforce pilot told me that visibility was getting too poor to fly. I contacted Denzil and told him about the pilot's plight and he appreciated the problem and wanted us to get back to Palaly and land, as if the visibility gets worse we may not be able to land and may have to proceed to Anuradhapura. Later when the sky cleared we were again up in the sky giving aerial security coverage to the Prime Minster and her entourage and returned to Colombo with the mission accomplished without any security problems.

Lee is bad news for batsmen

Ramesh Joseph

"Brett Lee" A Future Prospect For Australia

A bat was his first Christmas gift and soon he was smashing window panes in the neighbourhood. Brett Lee was an aggressive kid and understandably, fancied himself as an Australian cricketer from the time he realised he had the talent to make it big.

His elder brother Shane had a similar desire and the fierce drive to wear the baggy green cap triggered a healthy competition between them. Brett was different though. He, at the age of 10, wanted to bowl fast and thus began a journey of hard work which ultimately found its way to the MCG when he made that sensational debut.

The 23-year-old 'Blond Bomber,' as one newspaper described him, had arrived with a big bang. Some among the stands remembered the years of Jeff Thomson when he instilled fear in the minds of the batsmen with his disconcerting speed. Lee was in the same mould and was looking at just blasting the batsmen off with his fury.

Lee's romance with bowling fast and rattling the batsmen is quite contrary to his personality. Handsome and soft-spoken, he could soon be the most sought after face in Australia. He is a lethal proposition when he holds the cricket ball. It becomes a grenade and the batsmen sitting ducks. Many batsmen, in the Test match we saw and in the Sheffield Shield contests we heard about, were caught on the crease. The speed is what leaves the batsmen indecisive.

Like it was with Thomson, speed has been the devastating factor that sets Lee apart. That he managed to make a mark amidst the talent of Glenn McGrath, Damien Fleming and Shane Warne was just what skipper Steve Waugh had expected him to. " He is a fabulously talented bowler and in my opinion ready for international cricket," Steve Waugh had been preparing the ground for his initiation into the team.

Lee is just the bowler who would compel most of the batsmen to get off the strike. Facing the ball at an average of 150 kmph can be a nightmare. Rodney Marsh, the coach at the Commonwealth Cricket Academy, had declared this kid from Wollongong as a potential 200-wicket Test bowler.

"I'm still waiting to wake up, I reckon", Lee remarked after the five-wicket haul. But many batsmen would have lost their sleep worrying about this new menace on the circuit. Lee thought he was dreaming but not the batsmen, who had little clue on how to tackle one of the fastest bowlers of modern cricket.

It is not that Lee just bowls fast like a raw newcomer. "There is no point bowling fast if you can't take wickets," he had warned on the eve of the match. The hype that preceded his debut was justified by the man's performance and Australia had found a new sporting talent.

Lee's entry was delayed not because of any lack of talent to excel at that level but due to persistent injuries. The back, as it happens in the case of fast bowlers, was a big problem and he sought the help of Dennis Lillee. A slight change in the action and run up and Lee was ready to go again. "Talking to Lillee was a big help. My brother (Shane) too has been a guide but I have enjoyed my style and I have enjoyed the support from so many people. This is an experience I'll never forget. It's one of those things that I've dreamt about but I didn't expect to take five wickets. It's a very proud feeling, I'm very honoured and very happy," he said after the five-wicket haul.

Lee does not fit the image of a fast bowler really. He is not of huge build but has the right muscles to endure long spells. He is not exactly frightening, or one with an approach of a McGrath or an Akram, glaring at the batsman after beating him but he has a way of making his point. This handsome and athletic New South Welshman was one of the causes of the crowds flocking to the MCG on the traditional Boxing Day start. The idea was to support the young talent but they had to wait to see the man in action. The Australian public has traditionally welcomed the sight of a fast bowler. Lee struck with venom when he had the ball in his hand. Just as a fast bowler should. Running in smoothly, he kept the ball whistling past the ear of the batsmen with alarming consistency. If he overindulged in bouncing it was quite understandable. He is just 23. There might have been murmurs about his action but untill proved otherwise, let us celebrate the arrival of a character the game needs badly.

Shoaib Akhtar has been hounded (he has subsequently been banned) by those wanting to prove he has a suspect action. "If Akhtar throws, Lee also throws", thundered one Pakistani scribe. He might have a point in that only bowlers from the subcontinent come under the suspicion of those who run the game. But it would be indeed shocking if Lee's action also comes under scrutiny. It would be a blow to those young minds wanting to take to fast bowling with Lee being their latest role model.

At the start of the season there was plenty of talk of Lee having the ammunition to match Akhtar. Steve Waugh was very keen to throw this man into the arena but the selectors thought the bowler was not ready yet. Lee was drafted into the Australian team for the Test match at Perth against Pakistan. But he did not get to play as Michael Kasprowicz got the nod because of his experience. Imagine if Lee had bowled on that fiery surface. A few smashed teeth, knocks on the helmet or a broken stump or two. At his speed he promises such destructive acts and he returned to the venue for a Sheffield Shield match against Western Australia. He had the batsmen hopping around.

He can be accurate and quick. That makes him a deadly proposition. The sight of batsmen ducking , weaving and being hit excites him. Beware of this bowler, who the batsmen might well nickname ' Bruce Lee'. He can flatten them in a flash.

The prospect of Lee working in the company of McGrath and Jason Gillespie can be bad news for batsmen around the world. And the surface does not worry Lee much. He is basically quicker in the air and that makes him a different, and a very exciting bowler to watch. He is definitely good for the game.

An appeal to Sports Minister

The sportsman of the century

By Neville D Abeygunawardena

Most of the coun tries in the world of sports have already chosen their 'Sportsman of the century' with an Award, trumpeted in full blare and beat, ticker and trappings in a resounding national fervour. Some have named the Award 'Sportsman of the Millennium' which obviously sound ambiguous in the numerical sense, for a thousand years is stretching a bit too far. The Century Award looks more realistic and relevant, particularly in keeping with the history of our own Olympic movement.

If the concept is accepted, the basis of the Award is a simple and straightforward exercise, unless of course messed up by political or personal interests. Be that as it may, let us see right, think right, judge right and do right, and lo and behold glory will come our way. Necessarily the claimants for the award shall be from sportsmen and sportswomen who have achieved a degree of excellence only at 'world class' levels of competition, else it would be unwieldly. In our case it would be much easier with only a very few having had the distinction of excelling at the highest levels of competition.

In my view there are only three athletes who could be considered for the said award, given the following criteria, (a) excellence at world class levels of competition, (b) technical estimation of the chosen event, (c) degree of consistency, (d) in Olympic disciplines. Accordingly my nominees are, Duncan White, Susanthika Jayasinghe, and Barney Henricus. Of this exceptional trio, Duncan White remains ahead in terms of his performance at the highest levels of competition. Barney Henricus comes into reckoning by virtue of his gold medal in boxing at the 1938 British Empire Games, which was then considered a world class meet while only primitive facilities sans proper equipment, coaching, nutrition and medi-care attention and financial sustenance placed our athletes in a most disadvantageous position.

Hence the perform ance of Barney is all the more creditable. Susanthika's performance at the World athletic championships is another noteworthy achievement at the highest level of competition. However the Olympics is a far cry from other international competitions.

What tips the scales in Duncan's favour is his 'Silver' in the 400 M hurdles at the London Olympics 1948. The Olympics draw in the largest contingent of the world best athletes and obviously the standard of competition is extremely high. A medal in the Olympics is the epitome of the infinite competitive superiority.

Such then is the stature and standing of the Olympics. Technically, competitively and traditionally the Olympics remain the greatest sporting spectacle on earth.

Let me now touch briefly on the technical side of Duncan's performance. That renowned German athletic coach Dr. Otto Peltzer in an article in the book 'Great Asian Athletes' describes the 400 M hurdles event as the most highly technical Track event in athletics and goes on to say that Duncan to have beaten the world best in this particular event except Roy Cochran the world record holder then, was indeed exceptional.

The reputed American coach Dean Cromwell describes the 400 M hurdler thus, "he requires the speed of a sprinter - the stamina of a middle distance runner - and the skill of a long jumper. These views perhaps sums up the technical importance of the 400 M hurdles event.

When Duncan White won the 'Silver' in the 400 M hurdles in 51.8 seconds he improved on the then existing Olympic mark. Two years later at the British Empire Games 1950 in Auckland he won the 'Gold' in the 440 yds hurdles in 52.5 seconds, creating a new Games record and missing the world mark by only 1/5th of a second. Phenomenal indeed! Immediately after his performance in the London Olympiad the President of the Ceylon Olympic Association spoke thus., "Duncan has done more for Ceylon in 51.8 seconds than all the propaganda over 100 years".

Terse but how true the apt summing was! How pertinent and prophetic those words have been! Fifty two years have since passed and none amongst the living or dead has scaled such heights. Duncan was a colossus that traversed our playing fields!

Yet for five decades successive governments let this peerless athlete go unreckoned, unhonoured and unrewarded, until President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga reversed this great betrayal in 1998 by bestowing the state honour 'Deshamanya' on Duncan along with the privilege of a dual citizenship so that his desire to live once more in his country of birth would be realized.

However destiny decided otherwise for this legend of our time passed away a couple of months later in the cold climes of 'old blighty' perhaps dreaming of the day he would set foot again on his native soil. Ministers Lakshman Kadiragamar, C. V. Gooneratne and Lakshman Jayakody in their unobstrusive ways did much to make Duncan and his family feel they are always welcome in this country.

It is now for Minister S.B. Dissanayake to do his turn by Duncan White even posthumously by awarding the 'Sportsman of the Century' Award which indisputedly he richly deserves. Let reservations and misgivings created by others not blur the views of the minister and as much as you are a crusader of a cause and friend of the poor and humble, I request of you Sir, to do the last honour to our greatest athlete of the century and silently but constantly a whole nation will be thankful to you. None else deserve this award for Duncan White was the only moon amongst the stars.

Big boost for disabled sports

By Leonard Ratnayake

The year 2000 is ex pected to be a suc cessful year for disabled sports in Sri Lanka climaxing with the Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia. National Federation of Sports for the Disabled is expected to be busy throughout the year, this time with their annual event, the fourth national sports festival of the disabled, which is already underway with two of them being competed successfully. Added to this there will be a National Sports Festival for the disabled inaugurally conducted by the Ministry of Sports in parallel to their Annual National Sports Festival.

The remaining events of the annual sports festival are scheduled to commence today and will see the conclusion with the athletics meet on March 18 and 19. The Sports Festival will bring together over 1000 disabled sportsmen/women from all parts of the country, representing 51 sports clubs/organisations which are affiliated to NFSD. The sports feast will consist of eleven different sports events namely swimming, shooting, archery, table tennis, wheel- chair tennis, badminton, volley ball, wheelchair marathon, cycling, power-lifting and athletics. Preliminary arrangements are being made to conduct them at various venues in Colombo and some are being held away from Colombo as for the first time.

This is the only national recognised sporting event for the disabled held so far where they could qualify to take part in international competitions. The festival is open to many disabled personnel who are medically categorized such as physically disabled, mentally disabled, visually handicapped and hearing impaired. The development of sports opportunities for the disabled has a considerable history in Sri Lanka. Last year there was a remarkable growth since the formation of NFSD.

Despite the fact, that very little social acceptance and recognition to disabled sports has been given in our country in the recent past, the valuable services rendered by Rotary Club of Colombo Metropolitan. Ministry of Samurdhi, Youth Affairs and Sports, and the Ministry of Social Services towards organising the National Sports Festival during past few years has been highly commendable.

Dialogue GSM has come forward to sponsor the National Sports Programme for the disabled for the Year 2000.

Meanwhile the NFSD believes that the exclusive generous sponsorship offered by the MTN Networks (Pvt) Ltd., not only for the national festival but also for other proposed programmes of NFSD during the Year 2000, will make a significant improvement of development and promotion of sports for the disabled in the country. The sponsorship deal signed is for Rs. 1.5 million.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Hans Wijeyasuriya, the Chief Executive of Dialog GSM said, "Sports for the differently-abled has been sadly neglected where commercial sponsorship is concerned over the past few years. We felt it was essential to give the national sports programme for the disabled the impetus it richly deserves through a generous sponsorship programme. We hope we will succeed in elevating the profile of handicapped sports in the country and also to motivate those courageous individuals, who have broken all barriers, in participating at a competitive level both nationally and internationally.

The first step in the programme is the National Sports Festival of the Disabled to be worked off from early February to mid-March. We will also support several regional sports clubs/associations in upgrading their facilities and also sponsor continuous training programmes to upgrade the skills of the athletics. This year's calendar will climax with Sri Lanka's campaign to score at the Paralympics in Sydney immediately following the Olympic Games. We will be behind our athletics throughout the year and we are proud to sponsor the national contingent for the Paralympics."

A brief history

A revival of interest in the fortunes of the handicapped took place after World War II, when a centre for the rehabilitation of the disabled was established in Stock Mandeville, England under the patronage of Sir Ludwig Gutman. The main focus in the rejuvenation of the differently-abled was the arena of sport.

1952 - The birth of Paralympic Games with the inauguration of the Games for the Disabled in Stock Mandeville, England. The first official Paralympic Games took place in Rome in 1960. Many disabled athletes from Third World countries including Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, took part.

In Sri Lanka

1990 - Organisations working towards extra-curricular activities for the disabled met under the auspices of the Ministry of Sports to form a national body. A governing council for national sports of the disabled was established.

1990 - The first national sports Festival of the Disabled was held initially restricted to track and field events, the Games subsequently included swimming, archery, wheelchair races and tennis.

1998 - The introduction of volleyball, badminton, table tennis, weightlifting and marksmanship to the National Games for the Disabled.

Local athletes have since then taken part in many international games, displaying great talent and determination. The standard exhibited augurs well for the future.

A few of the laurels won so far

PESPIC Games, Thailand 1999

Swimming - Men's:

K.V. Chaminda Priyandarshana - 50m free style Gold; 100m free style Gold; 100m back stroke Gold; 200m free style Bronze;

P. Wijetunge - 50m free style Bronze; 100m medley Bronze.

Track and field - Men:

H.D. Sarath - 800m Silver; M.K.W. Abeysinghe - high jump Bronze.

Track and field - Women:

W.M. Nimali Nilanthi - 100m Silver; Anoma Priyadarshani - Discus throw Silver.

Southern Cross Swimming Competition - Sydney, Aus. 1999

K.V.C. Priyandarshana - 50m free style Gold; 100m free style Gold; 100m back stroke Gold.

Europa Badminton Tournament - Tel Aviv, Israel 1999

M.P.S. Badusena - Paraplegic Event Silver; M.D. Mahadivulwewa - Wheelchair event Gold; K.S. Weerasinghe - Wheelchair event Gold; V.G. Nishantha - Wheelchair event Bronze; V.G. Nishantha and K.S. Weerasinghe - Wheelchair (Pairs) Gold; W.P.A. Lalith Kumara and A.T.P.S. Bandusena - Paraplegic (Pairs) Bronze.

Itinerary of events Date Time Event Venue

13th Feb 1000 Hrs Swimming SSC Swimming Pool, Colombo

16th Feb 1000 Hrs Table Tennis S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia

Undated 0800 Hrs Badminton S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia

23rd Feb 0800 Hrs Powerlifting Ranaviru Sevena, Ragama

27th Feb 0800 Hrs Wheel chair Marathon Anuradhapura Town

27th Feb 0800 Hrs Cycle race Anuradhapura Town

7th Mar 0800 Hrs Volley ball Youth Centre Maharagama

4th Mar 0900 Hrs Archery Sugathadasa Std., Colombo

18th & 19th Mar 0800 Hrs Athletics Sports Ministry Grounds, Reid Avenue

Mahanama dazzles for Footballers

Former Sri Lanka Test batsman Roshan Mahanama turning out for Footballers CC in the Ferntree Gully District Association's tournament was batting at his best despite a late surge.

Mahanama, finding his touch played a gallant innings for the Footballers CC in their phase of Scoreby's total of 220 for 9. it produced exciting cricket, thanks to a valiant personal effort by Roshan, when he notched 90 runs in a total of 194, falling short of the target.

The middle order batting failed due to some fine bowling coming from Noulan who took four wickets to steer Scoresby to victory despite Roshan's assault.

Mahanama with his charming ways on and off the field has been a crowd- puller whenever he turns out for Footballers CC.

Footballers have a slim chance of making to the top. In a lone effort Mahanama hit a classy 167 against Rowille.

The Rowille bowlers couldn't stop Mahanama's agressive strokeplay. Roshan batting in his own inimitable style scored 167 in a Footballers total of 260.

With Mahanama going great guns, Footballers CC have an outside chance of making it to the finals.

According to Dr. Quintus de Zilva who was here last week with Eddie Gray said Roshan is batting at his best and is certain of getting a contract to play for Footballers CC till 2001 for his consistency.

The feature of the on-going tournament Upwey's Heath 191 and Pitts 182 scored a mammoth 349 for the loss of 4 wickets.

Upwey chasing a modest Bluebirds 139 were struggling at 3 for 31 and ended up with 416 for 7, thanks to Heath and Pitts. (BW)

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