The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

‘The most prestigious of all events’ says chef-de-mission

XXX Olympic Games in London

Deva Henry

Sri Lanka’s Chef-de-mission for the XXX Olympic Games Deva Henry who left for London yesterday described the event as the most prestigious in the calendar.

He said that though the Lankan contingent is confined to seven participants it is a prestigious one and described, “It is easy to handle this small contingent. In comparison to the Commonwealth Games where we had over hundred participants this contingent is minute. But, Olympics is a prestigious event and the participants are described as the elite athletes of the world.

“Our work with regard to the games began August last year and during that period we had three meetings with the London Organizing Committee regarding the logistics like accreditation, entitlements etc.”Henry said that the seven athletes who are taking part at the Games are the most eligible. He said that the athletes were chosen by the respective international organizations that had set up their own eligibility standards. He then added, “At this end we had nothing to do with the selections. They had to reach those criteria for eligibility.

“Even the Wild Cards are not easily given. To gain a Wild Card an athlete should be taking part in so many international meets. For instance the Badminton player Thilini Jayasinghe who gained a Wild Card was the third in the reserve list, fortunately for Thilini the South African player who was before her pulled out at the last moment.”

Henry who left for London yesterday, will have two more meetings with the London Organizers on logistics before the arrival of the rest of the contingent.The first lot of the Olympic participants – the swimmers will leave for London on August 20 while the rest will leave on August 24.

Three of the participants are abroad. Marathon runner Anuradha Indrajith Cooray is already in England training, while USA based hurdler Christine Sonali Merrill and Niluka Karunaratne who was chosen as the captain of the Lankan contingent is training in Poland will travel to England thereafter.

The Games will be officially opened on August 27 and the Lankans for the first time will be in action on July 29 with the swimmers taking the plunge while the Marathon will take place on August 12, which will also be the last day of the Games.

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