Sri Lanka’s latest sports sensation Chinthana Withanage is
in for further luck. Now he will join the Lankan 400 metres sprinter
Prasanna Amerasekera and shuttler Niluka Karunaratne in undergoing
IOC sponsored training courses.
Withanage who won the “gold” medal for the under 65kg
weightlifting category at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games has got
the nod from the USA Academy of Weightlifting in Colarado Springs.
to Sri Lanka Olympic Committee Chief Hemasiri Fernando when they
met at the last IOC meeting in Korea recently to ratify the Olympic
Scholarships the names of Prasanna Amerasekera and Niluka Karunaratne
had been accepted from the original list of five sent in. Fernando
added “At this point we pushed for Withanage’s name
to be included, but, initially they said that it was too late. However
in a sudden streak of luck the head of the USA Academy of Weightlifting
who was not an original invitee also happened to be at this gathering
and we took the chance to make a request on Chinthana’s behalf
and he readily accepted it. Right at this moment we are going through
the customary visa procedures and if everything does go well the
three sportsmen will head for the USA by the 15th of June.”
Chinthana Withanage will be undergoing the training course for a
period of two years and this will culminate with the participation
at the next Olympics in China two years hence. When asked whether
the Lankan threesome would be taking part in the SAF games scheduled
for August in Colombo the NOC head said “Yes, we will get
them down for the SAF games and they can go back to their training
programmes once their events are over.
Originally as soon as Chinthana won his Commonwealth title it was
speculated that he would undergo a training course in Melbourne
Australia, but this latest development has preceded it.
Meanwhile the Sri Lanka Weightlifting Federation is making arrangements
to send an eight member contingent to take part in the Commonwealth/Oceania
Championship which will be held in Western Samoa in July. Withanage
was also to represent Sri Lanka at this championship, but now with
this latest development he may not be present in Samoa.