Sports Plus
1st October 2000
Front Page
Editorial/Opinion| Plus| Business
Sports| Mirror Magazine
The Sunday Times on the Web
Contents Index Page
Front Page
Mirrror Magazine

Dazzling gazelle

By Rochelle Jansen
The countdown to the millenium was nowhere near the countdown to the 200m women's final at the Sydney Olympic Games September 28, 2000. 

Pindrop silence was observed at every house, every office and at every place Sri Lankans stood - for stand they did - as the excitement of a Sri Lankan competing for an Olympic medal was too intenase to endure seated. 

Practically every television and radio set in the island was switched on with many trying to catch the action of the women's 200m final. 

Traffic jams were witnessed as drivers slowed down or stopped their vehicles to experience the making of history. Housewives fogot the pans on the fire in their bid to not be left out of the action. The country came to a standstill.

As the the words "on your marks" were heard every Sri Lankan breathed in as one and held their breath till the starting gun was heard. 

Then there was no stopping the dazzling gazelle of Sri Lanka nor the fervent and wild cries of "Go Susi! Go!" on the lips of every Sri Lankan at home and abroad. Through her victory the village lass single-handedly did something for Sri Lanka not hitherto done for a while. She filled Sri Lankans with a sense of true patriotism and pride to be identified as Sri Lankans.

Taken from her village in Warakapola at the age of 15 when her potential was realized by her teacher, Susanthika was groomed into becoming a world class athlete by her then coach Derwin Perera. 

She shocked the world and became a national hero by winning Silver in the 200 metres at the world championships in Athens in 1997 with a timing of 22.33s. Thus becoming the first Sri Lankan to win a major medal since 1948 when Duncan White won silver at the London Olympics.

Her other major achievements included bringing her timing down from 22.95 to 22.44 and then to 22.33 during the '97 World Championships. Later setting the the Asian 200m record in 1997 and indoor 60m record in 1999. 

She also competed in the 1995 World Championships and the1996 Olympic Games. She unfortunately missed the 1999 World Championships due to a leg injury.

She was placed second in the Asian Championships in 1995

and second in the 200m Asian Games in 1994.

She holds the 100m and 200m records in her homeland and was the first Sri Lankan in 49 years to win a track and field medal at a global sporting event and the first South Asian ever to win a World Championship medal in track and field. 

When Susanthika returned to Sri Lanka from Athens, Greece, she was bombarded with attention from the public, government officials and the media. Newspapers said she had showered her motherland with glory and honour, and dignitaries clamoured for her presence. But the love affair went sour when she tested positive for an anabolic steroid in April 1998 and was condemned by the press and government. She was cleared of all charges after a legal battle, but to some people she will always be labelled a drug cheat. She sayd: "The damage has been done now. My character has been assassinated." 

Later controversies that arose regarding her career included an alleged involvement in a drunken brawl, the use of prohibited steroids, the ban which was imposed for a few months which though lifted she stated prevented her from being prepared for the Commonwealth games in 1998. Her career was also overshadowed with the alleged sex scandal. Threats to her life and that of her husband Dhammika Nandakumara (whom she married 1994) also clouded her life. Controversies also arose regarding where she would train and also regarding the gifts that were bestowed upon her by the government in the form of property and vehicles. 

During her short career Susanthika has also been accused of being "mentally deranged" and of having a body similar to a "black African man" by top ranking authorities in Sri Lanka.

Amidst these raging conteoversies Susantika 

moved to Los Angeles and vowed never to return to her homeland. She trained there with coach Tony Campbell and was the only woman in the group of sprinters. Her goal remained to become the first Sri Lankan to win an Olympic medal. She had not run consistently for almost two years, so that goal might not have seemed as close as it was in 1997. Still she insisted she would win a medal and run her personal best at the Games.

To Susanthika winning in Sydney means more than a medal around her neck. She said before the race "If I win a gold medal, then maybe I would go back to Sri Lanka and show it to the people".

She achieved her dream and that of many through her victory. And leaving aside politival and peesonal powerplay Susanthika has done her country proud. 

Youth Development takes top place in football drive

By Gamini Perera 
In a far-sighted move which would benefit football in the future, the Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL) has launched a project named: Tharuna Sanwardanaya, which means Youth Development. This Youth Football Development Programme (YDP) will spread its tentacles through the schools and leagues affiliated to the FFSL. 

This FIFA /AFC assisted project will be undertaken by the FFSL with the Co-operation of the Ministry of Samurdhi, Youth Affairs and Sports, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and the Provincial Councils. 

The FFSL sponsor to this project is the PCCL Group whose benevolence will be generously accorded by its football-loving chairman, Vernon Manilal Fernando, the executive member of the FFSL and Vice-President, AFC. 

The prime mover of this project is the President of the FFSL Bodhi Liyanage, (DIG, Colombo Range). The Project Director is former national player, M. Subani Hashimdeen. 

Future assets 

The FFSL is of the view that the youth are the future assets of the country. Hence, this youth resource must be guided and utilised towards development. The ability and the talents of youth must be brought to light by affording them the needed facilities. 

According to this Project, which is a national programme, 600 schools in various parts of the country, will be taught the basic skills of soccer to nearly 12,000 young boys , under 12 years of age with the guidance of former national players. They will be assisted by trained coaches. 

The 12,000 boys absorbed into this programme in the year 2000 will be trained for 8 years and in the year 2008 they will be under- 20 years of age. 

Most of these youths will guarantee the future of the sports in the country. 

By the year 2008 , 60,000 youth societies will be involved in active football. 

"The training and methodical initiation of young players is a determining factor in developing their football skills and performances. Thus, this new project will contribute towards a considerable expansion of FFSL's foundation and infrastructure" said a spokesman of the FFSL to the Daily Mirror. 

Three Phases 

The Youth Development Project has been divided into three groups as follows: 

Phase I - Questionnaires will be sent to all schools to find out their requirements and assistance needed to improve football. On receiving their replies, the regional Co-ordinator and the provincial Co-ordinator will visit these schools for a discussion with the respective school authorities and parents. Qualified coaches will be provided to these schools to teach the young ones the basic of football. Their training programme will be monitored regularly. 

Phase II: Seminars and workshops will be conducted by qualified coaches simultaneously in as many provinces as possible with one or two participants from each school. After identifying the schools which have shown improvement they will be given the needed equipment to prepare them to teach football to the children, initially in classes and ultimately into forming teams for competitions. 

Phase III: With the YDP's specific objective of giving the youth an opportunity to play football, the Sri Lanka Schools FA will organise inter-schools tournaments for various age groups. Annual 'big matches' will be conducted among schools from the same area which will enable the parents and the old boys of these schools to get involved and assist their own schools. 

Competitions and scouting 

Inter-club and inter-league competitions will be conducted islandwide for youth under-16 and under-18. 

When the school tournaments and the youth club tournaments are in progress, the youth national coaches will go around picking latent talent for the national youth squad. 

The most talented boys will be given an opportunity to get the best training and facilities in Colombo in order to develop their skills to the highest (order ) level of their abilities. These will be under the guidance of highly qualified coaches. 


Scholarships and awards will be given to outstanding talented youth to do their studies and play football for their respective schools and later at national level. 

Cycling his way to glory

Krishantha Liyanage is a young man from Gonapinuwala, a small village near Hikkaduwa. He is twenty-three years old and his passion is cycling. Although he was good in academics and was also a President's Scout who represented Sri Lanka at the SAARC 12th National Scouts Jamboree in Pakistan in 1994, his only desire was to excel in the sport of cycling.

Since 1995 he has participated in over eighty long-distance races, among which around thirty have been at National level and one, held in Pakistan this year, was an eleven-day, 1898 Km race. He has won twenty-four of these races and has been placed between second and fourth in the others. At present he is ranked Number One in his field by the Ministry of Sports. Krishantha came to the notice of SOS when he won the 482-km race from Galle to Monaragala and back to Galle, held as part of the SOS Day celebrations in 1999.

As Krishantha is so devoted to his sport, he has not been able to secure employment that will allow him the time to dedicate himself to the long hours required for practise. And also, since his father's pension is the only means of support for his family, he often races on borrowed bicycles and survives through the generosity of wellwishers. On hearing of Krishantha's plight, Dominic Sansoni, the well-known photographer and mountain-bike aficionado (and also a very old friend of SOS) presented Krishantha with a Raleigh Mountain Bike. 

This has now enabled Krishantha to upgrade his practise routine and he says that Raleigh helps him in the development of his fitness and the strength in his legs.

With the generosity of friends like Dominic Sansoni, he will be able to secure employment that will allow him time to reach the standards that will make our nation proud of him. Cedric de Silva

Bentham's bowling machine...

An innovative bowling machine has been produced by an old boy of S. Thomas' College, Mt. Lavinia, a diploma holder from Wurtzburg University, Germany. 

This machine manufactured by Bentham Palihawadana has the capacity to bowl at a speed of approximately 150km per hour accommodating in-swingers, out-swingers and spinners, at variable speed and flight, using the customary leather ball. 

The machine has been manufactured using alloy castings, electrogalvanized pipes, and a powder coating system. All components are locally manufactured using the "state of the art" technology. 

Spare parts for the "Ben's Bowling Machine" are freely available with the local manufacturer. 

A 24-hour endurance test was carried out satisfactorily at 2000 rounds per minute, using 75 grams in weight, to assess the durability of this machine. 

A demonstration was carried out at the indoor nets of S. Thomas' College, Mt. Lavinia under the supervision of STC cricket coach Dinesh Kumarasinghe, followed by another, at the SSC indoor nets under the supervision of Arjuna Ranatunga, Anura Tennakoone, Ranil Abeynaike and Mahinda Halangoda. 

These cricketing stalwarts have recommended and complimented this millennium invention "The Ben's Bowling Machine."

Rani: an example to her athletic peers

Rani Jayathilake of SOS Children's Village, Galle, is presently employed in the Sri Lankan Army. She came to the Children's Village when she was thirteen years old, was educated at Sacred Heart Convent in Galle and passed the Advanced Level Examination in 1997.

Having discovered this girl's natural talent and energy for sports, her schoolteachers, along with the Village Director and Educators at SOS, helped pave the way for Rani to excel in a number of different sporting activities. 

She first took part in track events in the under fourteen age group held at her school sports day and won several trophies. She also broke several school records and challenged all the top athletes of the district. At the same time she represented the school in Netball and the team won many trophies at tournaments around the province.

When Rani turned fifteen she proved herself in both the long jump and high jump events by winning both events consistently at all her school sports days. At sixteen she continued her excellence by winning first place in the high jump, the hurdles and the 800-meter race. 

She won several medals for track events and was a regular member of the school parade throughout her time at school. During the following year she won the under-seventeen "Athlete of the Year" award and continued to win this title until she left school.

After leaving school, Rani had to make a big decision, because as well as being a talented athlete she also loves music. Finally, after much thought, she came to the conclusion that she would join the armed forces. This way she could continue to utilise her talent in the sports field while at work.

She joined the Army just two and half years ago and is now attached to one of the units in Colombo city. Her love for sport is still with her. While serving the country she is a leading member of the Army netball, basketball and rugby teams. Rani has recently taken up karate, has already been awarded the Orange Belt and is now training hard for her Black Belt. She has also achieved the post of Physical Training Instructor in the Army, which she is thoroughly enjoying after having followed a course on the subject at the Panagoda Camp.

- Anton Narangoda

Young squash players in Willingdon Junior Open 

Fifteen boys and five girls headed by the national champion - Navin Samarasinghe are participating in the Willingdon Junior Open squash championships in Mumbai, India. 

This is the first time a Sri Lankan contingent of young squash players who are travelling on an individual basis for experience and exposure for such a championship. The same contingent will be staying on to participate in the Indian Junior Open Championship until October 5 which are back to back with the Wellingdon Sports Championships. 

In the Under-19 boys event, Navin Samarasinghe and Malinda Sugathapala, had both entered the third round of these championships after getting a bye in the first round. Sri Lanka is placing its hopes on Navin, making a bid for the Wellingdon Cup which has hitherto never been taken away from India. Navin playing the last match of the day entered the quarter-finals beating Anurag Gill, and is the only boy to enter the quarter. 

In the Under-17 boys' event - all the Sri Lankan players namely, Madupa Jayathilleke, Harin Perera, S.T. Kannangara were eliminated in the first round itself while Manojith Weerasuriya won against Patka Ferrdon but lost the second round match to Ashok Rathtor. 

In the Under-15 boys' encounters - Shezan Zahir, Roshane Nanayakkara and Manojith Weerasuriya won their respective first round matches while Harrin Perera, D.M. Jayathilleke and Ravinka Serasinghe went down fighting and out of the tournament. In the second round Shezan Zahir managed to stay in contention when he beat Sadiquad Raswata.

In the Under-13 boys' event - Akitha Gunasekera, Eranga Alwis and Janindu Goonawardena proceeded to the third round while Roshane Nanayakkara who won his first round match against Tariq Arora lost to Manek Mathur and had to step down from the championships. In the Under-11 boys' event - Praveen Perera who got a bye in the first round won the second round match against Ashwin Nazareth while Thejaka Wijeweera who also got a bye in the first round lost in the second round to Dhru Josjniwal. 

In the Under-19 girls' event - Randika Dissanayake and Sashika de Silva won their matches whilst Tehani Guruge, Menusha Hettiarachchi and Nisanga Mayadunne lost their first round matches. Sashika and Randika lost in the second round match and therefore Sri Lanka will not be represented in the Under-19 girls' quarter-finals. In the Under-15 girls' event - Menusha Hettiarachchi proceeded to the quarter-finals by beating Saachi Mehta. 

Menusha Hettiarachchi got a bye while Tehani Guruge who won her first round match against Rukshin Palia lost the second round and is out of contention. Out of the girls, only Menusha Hettiarachchi has been able to come to the quarter-finals of this event. 

The draws for the girls' events are from a draw of 34 and therefore having first and second round matches leading to the quarter-finals, while as the draw for the boys' matches are on a draw of 64 and is therefore has first, second and third rounds leading to the quarter-finals. 

Much hope is been placed on Navin Samarasinghe and Menusha Hettiarachchi to keep the Sri Lanka flag flying. 


More Sports Plus

Return to Sports Plus Contents


Front Page| News/Comment| Editorial/Opinion| Plus| Business| Sports| Sports Plus| MirrorMagazine

Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to 

The Sunday Times or to Information Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.

Presented on the World Wide Web by Infomation Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.
Hosted By LAcNet