Olympic dreams and silver medals
He is an Olympic medallist. And, like every other Olympian,
he is a man with dreams. One of which he has not given up long after
the race was won. His quest for more goes on and on.
Jin de Silva
did not receive his medal for the race he 'could not run' but for
his amazing Olympic memorabilia collection. De Silva won a silver
medal at the Atlanta Summer Games in 1996, for his "Centennial
Collectibles Memorabilia" display.
I met Jin de
Silva in Hawai'i recently, where he is domiciled. He is quite a
legend amongst the local community and a popular figure in Oahu.
At the time, his collection was being displayed at the Hawai'i Convention
Centre to commemorate Duke Kahanamoku's achievements as a four-time
Olympian with a match bag of four golds, two silver and one bronze
his story about his dreams that began over half a century ago when,
as a schoolboy in Sri Lanka, he was a track and field athlete. De
Silva was vying for a place in the country's 1948 Olympic squad
but unfortunately, at the time the country could only afford to
send just one athlete and Duncan White was selected. And while White
went on to win the silver medal in the 400 metre hurdles behind
Ray Cochran, de Silva was left behind with a deep unfulfilled Olympic
It was that
desire that started him off collecting Olympic souvenirs and pins.
With a gamut of collectibles that include stamps, books, ties and
scarves, plates, glassware, spoons and shirts and various other
mementos, de Silva's collection has now exceeded the 10,000 mark
and is considered the world's largest collection to be held by any
individual. He has also been conferred a lifetime membership from
the Olympic Collectors Association in New York and is an honorary
member of the Hawai'i Swimming Hall of Fame.
he says, "although there are many people with very large collections,
I think mine is the only one that has a sentimental value."
He does not make any money out of his collection and his main motive
is to inspire the younger generation. "That is my greatest
happiness," he says, "to share the Olympic spirit with
De Silva has
attended the Olympic Games of '84, '88, '92 '96 and the Millennium
Games in Australia. At each of these games, he has displayed and
added to his collection. "Trading is a second sport in the
Olympics," he explains where athletes and spectators share
their wares. But his greatest moment was when he met the wife of
his mentor, four times Olympic gold medallist and champion of equal
rights, Jesse Owens.
When de Silva
was training in athletics as a young boy, he wrote to Jesse Owens
telling him about his dream and received a training schedule from
the pro. He diligently followed the programme but was unfortunate
not to be selected for the Games. However, Owens remained his hero
and at the Los Angeles Games of 1984, he was surprised to hear that
Owens' wife was in the stadium. De Silva managed to persuade the
guards into letting him meet with her and when he did he told her
about Owens' generosity. Touched by his story, Owens's widow later
sent de Silva a beautiful letter together with one of her husband's
commemorative gold medals.
was the most wonderful thing to happen to me," said de Silva
tearfully. That medal always gets pride of place wherever this collection
He was proud
to witness Sri Lanka's sprint queen Susanthika Jayasinghe's achievement
in the Olympics when she won the bronze medal in the 200 metre dash
at the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia.
he gave my teenaged daughter, Anya, a collector's pin as a souvenir
and advised her to go for her dreams and never give up on them,
whatever they might be.
Jin de Silva
may have had unfulfilled dreams of Olympic fame that slipped through
his fingers, but he did not give up. That is the Olympic spirit.
From Baroque to modern music
Music is a univer sal language. Whether it be played in
grand halls in Britain or the farthest corners of South Asia - music
can reach out and touch the hearts of every living being.
the success of their previous performances in this country the European
Commission to Sri Lanka will present the European Union Chamber
Orchestra in "From Bach to Bartok". This whilst being
the EUCO's third tour will undoubtedly be a treat for all Sri Lankan
lovers of classical music.
Formed in 1981
with young professional musicians from the European Union, the EUCO
performs at international festivals and in prestigious concert halls,
enjoying an annual schedule of some 70 concerts. A recognized cultural
ambassador for the European Union, the Orchestra tours in Europe
and overseas with an established international reputation for musical
since Western classical music was introduced to this country by
the Dutch and the English it has created its own following,"
says Dr. Lalith Perera. "The fact that all the tickets were
sold out at both the 1999 and the 2000 concerts is enough proof
of the fact that there is a marked interest in Western classical
concert will also have a local touch to it. For taking centre stage
as soloist, accompanied by the EUCO at the first concert in Colombo
will be Sri Lankan born Soprano, Preshanthi Navaratnam.
The 15 performers
of the EUCO include German, British, Danish, French, Swedish, Belgian
and Finnish musicians. "These are professional musicians, so
such performances present ideal opportunities for our aspiring musicians.
The exposure will be great," adds music critic Dr. (Mrs.) Selvie
will go through music from the Baroque to the Modern Period."
It will also include the works of Mozart, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky.
The works of Bartok will contribute to the Modern period.
tour to Sri Lanka is sponsored by Prestige Automobiles (Pvt.) Ltd.
Other sponsors include The Lanka Oberoi, Jetwing Travels, TNL Radio,
Dynavision and The Sunday Times.
in the evening hair style category
Asia Pacific", an international hair and make up competition
was held at the Sunway Lagoon Resort Hotel, Malaysia from October
15 to 17. Organised by the Sri Lanka Association of Hairdressers
and Beauticians (SLAHAB), this is the sixth of its kind.
participated in the competition, namely Japan, South Korea, Australia,
Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, India, Pakistan, Singapore,
Vietnam, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Contestants participated in eight
categories, with the list including Ladies and Gents Commercial
Hair Cut and Blow Dry, Ladies and Gents Creative Hair Cut and Blow
Dry, Ladies Elegant Evening Hairstyle on Long Hair, Nail Art, Bridal
Make-up and Fantasy Hair Style.
Sri Lanka too,
being the organisers made its mark in some categories. Ranga Perera
and Prabath Saranga secured 2nd and 3rd place in the Hair Style
category, while Suwinitha Gunawikkrama came in 2nd in the Nail Art
category. Most other places secured by the Sri Lankan competitors
show much future potential.
Deepavali is a spiritual festival celebrated by Hindus
during the October-November period. It signifies the emergence of
the soul from darkness, avidya to light vidya or awakening.
rows of light in Sanskrit. The festival is observed by displaying
rows of light at the entrance of homes, places of worship etc.
oil baths, worshipping of Goddess Luxshmi and fireworks displays
etc., take a prominent place. Among Hindus, an oil bath on this
day is considered a sacred and important ritual.
is the celebration of the victory of Sri Krishna over the demon
Naharasuran who by practising austerities had gained strength to
drive the Gods out of the celestial kingdom. On this day, people
clean and decorate their homes for, uncleaned homes drive away good
fortune. In the courtyards of the homes colourful kolams (designs)
are drawn using rice and turmeric flour.
it that when Asuran was to be eliminated, he was allowed one boon
at the moment of death and he asked that the day of his death be
celebrated as a day feasting and rejoicing. Hence it is known as
celebrated differently in different places but bathing in the early
morning, wearing clean new clothes, going to temples for religious
rituals etc., are common to all. Short eats, sweets and other eatables
are shared with relatives, friends, neighbours and visitors.
of lights signifies the true awakening of wisdom in an ignorant
mankind. The rows of beautiful lamps lit in Hindu homes symbolise
the annihilation of ignorance and sorrow.
declares that all the lights of the world cannot be compared even
to a ray of inner light of the self. Merge yourself in this light
of lights and enjoy the bliss of the brightest of lights, God.
The world today
is affected not only by poverty, social disabilities but also by
the selfishness of man. The festival reminds us that where there
is Dharma righteousness, there victory shall be.
of purified wisdom which we carry in our hearts will undoubtedly
strengthen us for sacrifice, service and greatness and dispel the
superstitious darkness of ignorance and egoistic arrogance.
a festival of freedom, peace, unity and compassion since love and
peace are its central theme. Let us pray for knowledge, peace and
happiness and to free ourselves from ignorance, envy, misery and