back on track?
By S.R. Pathiravithana
After the horrendous debacle in Athens, it seem that
finally sanity is prevailing in the disjointed athletics in Sri
Lanka who are in preparation for the South Asian Federation (SAF)
Games which will be held at the Sugathadasa Stadium from 15 to 25
Lanka's athletic ship ran aground at Athens this summer. So they
have called for help from a ship repairer in Kiran Atapattu and
have appointed him as the Manager Athletics for the SAF games. We
still do not what Atapattu's exploits in the track or the field
are, but, his famous social background may help the athletic administration
to put some of the disjointed aspects of the present arena together.
In the first step towards this endeavour, the respective coaches
and the athletes from the 93 strong contingent who are under training
at present are scheduled to go on a one month High Altitude Training
Programme from November 20 to December 20. According to president
of the Athletic Association of Sri Lanka Sunil Jayaweera, these
athletes will get a sum of Rs. 200/- per day from the National Olympic
Committee (NOC) during this period.
at the same time there will also be a monitoring committee comprising
Kiran Atapattu, National coach Lakshman de Alwis and vice president
Dervin Perera who will keep a tab on whether these athletes are
keeping up to their task. For this the coaches will have to provide
the details of venues and the time schedules of the athletes training
programme and the monitoring team in turn will make random checks
on this. If by chance if any contingent has flouted the given schedule,
the monitoring committee will call for explanation from the coach
and also request them to refund the allocations granted to them
by the NOC. On completion of the High Altitude Training Programme
the 93 contingent will get a ten-day break for the festive season
before they go in for the next training session which will go till
June 2005 where the SAF Team proper will be selected.
AA president also added that he has indicated to the NOC of some
shortcomings that they are facing at present where events are concerned.
The president said "Sri Lanka is very strong in track and field
events and as the games are now scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka
we must play on our strong points". Sunil Jayaweera has pointed
out to the NOC that the 10,000 metres, 20 KM walk, Pole Vault, 500
metres and the Marathon (men) and 20 KM walk and 4 x 400 (women)
have not been included and have requested the governing body to
this, he also pointed out that men's hammer throw a sport that Sri
Lanka does not indulge in, is included in the schedule this year.
He said "As far as I know only India and Pakistan are the two
countries that take part in this event. For a sport to be taken
in as an event of the SAF games at least three countries must take
part. As things are we have requested the NOC to consider removing
this event from this year's games. But, if Nepal or Bhutan send
in their entries then they have to keep it on the schedule".
AA President also revealed that besides the Sugathadasa Stadium,
the grounds at Torrington, Reid Avenue and the university grounds
will be made available also for the visiting athletes upon their
arrival for the games.
all this good news there also is another development that is working
towards the betterment of athletics. As the history has shown in
pure black and white the bickering within athletics big-wigs has
not only brought the game down, but also depicted it as a smelly
can of worms that has done more harm to its image and the athletes
themselves rather than any good. To put the new development in the
words of the AA president -- "The next AA elections are due
in March 2005.
that point onwards there will be only five months for the SAF games.
At this juncture if we keep on indulging in factional fighting it
is not going to do any good to our common cause which is the SAF
games. It is imperative that we do well at these games as it will
mean a lot for the future of it. So as a result we are looking for
a common candidate who will be an acceptable person to all parties.
If we can succeed in this, athletics at large will be the winner
and if all are working for a common goal we stand to achieve a lot".
of wisdom indeed. Is it workable or not only future will tell. If
it becomes a success so many others who are standing at different
corners in all areas of life can take the cue.