A total of 450 differently-able Army War Heroes of our times, still strong with unswerving moral courage and insatiable aptitude for multiple athletic skills, are now set to showcase their talents in the 18th ‘Sri Lanka Army Para Games – 2015’ tournament, scheduled during September 16-18 at Diyagama Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium.
A press conference at the Defence Ministry Media Center, Colombo 3 on Wednesday (9), headed by Major General Jagath Dias, Chief-of-Staff in this regard, was told that ‘Sri Lanka Army Para Games – 2015’, now an annual event in the Army calendar of events, is to be attended by foreign para athletes, including Indians, Pakistanis, Indonesians, Malaysians and Nepalese.
As a hand of friendship, goodwill and reconciliation, several Para Athletic Associations in the North and East have also been invited as a beginning to attend this three-day long tournament as observers.
‘Serious thought has gone into possibilities of including those para athletes from the North and East also in the tournament in the future, considering the high numbers of disable sportsmen resident in war-affected areas while providing the complete Army sponsorship to them,’Major General Dias said.
“It is heartening to note that the 2016 Brazil Paralympics is seriously considering the inclusion of several para athletes of the Army from the fields of shooting, athletics, archery, swimming, wheelchair, etc, and a group of about 14 such athletes have now been identified by the authorities, and if all that goes well, this will be another milestone for the Army”, Major General Dias added.
Major General Jagath Dias who is also the Chairman, Sri Lanka Army Para Sports Committee announced that this year’s ‘Sri Lanka Army Para Games’, with the blessings and directions of the Commander of the Army, would make a difference with the participation of increased numbers of foreign sportsmen and for the first time, observers from civil sector para athletic societies, operating in the North and East. All signs affirm that the Army arrangements in this field have been well-recognized.
The ‘Sri Lanka Army Para Games’ in 2015 has been patronized by DI Industries (Main Sponsor), Dialog, Lalans, Laugfs Gas, Avant Guard and a few other leading business ventures. Similarly, all the regiments in the Army as well as Colonels of Regiments have lavishly contributed to make this event a huge success.
Selected athletes in the 2-month long tournament before the finals, vied for supremacy, amid huge enthusiasm and excitement in their respective Regimental Headquarters premises after the events formally commenced earlier with wheelchair Basket Ball competitions, etc.
Later on, events in Badminton, Cycling, Wheelchair Marathon, Archery, Weight-Lifting, Volleyball, Volleyball (sitting), Beach Volleyball, Table Tennis, Cricket, Swimming, Wheelchair Tennis, Air Rifle Shooting and Athletics followed.
Lieutenant General Crishanthe De Silva, Commander of the Army and distinguished invitees are expected to attend ceremonies, associated with the opening and the closing events.
This mega event will undoubtedly instill a new glimmer of hope among more than 845 differently able War Heroes who have displayed their unbeatable sport skills in the past two months with the determined intention of receiving accolades in the final tournament, Major General Dias added.
The tournament covers 14 track and field events and reaches to a climax with athletic and relay events, taking the centre-stage.
In 2012, Sri Lanka Army para athletes brought fame and honor to the country by the Warrant Officer II, UPP Pradeep Sanjaya of Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment who recorded an Asian achievement by finishing 400m in 49.28 seconds to carry away the first Paralympic Medal and similarly, in the year 2013 Sri Lanka won a Bronze Medal in Leon, France. In addition, Sergeant Y.P.A.P Jayalath of Commando Regiment secured a Gold and a Silver in the 2014 Paralympics.
Previously known as the ‘Army Disable Sports Meet’, it saw its birth in the year 1991, but was renamed and re-designed in 2010, to be called the ‘Sri Lanka Army Para Games’ particularly with the increased numbers of affected soldiers during fierce battles.
Similarly, several Army Para athletes participating in Asian tournaments succeeded in securing many medals to the Army. In addition, Sri Lanka Army sportsmen are expected to participate in Para Olympics Games in South Korea.
Brigadier JR Ampemohotti, Vice President, Army Para Games Committee, Brigadier Rajeev Wickremasinghe, Chairman, Army Para Athletic Committee, Brigadier Jayanath Jayaweera, Director Media at Army Headquarters and acting Military Spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Deepal Herath, Secretary, Army Para Games Committee who were at the head table contributed to the discussion.
Paralympics medalist, Warrant Officer II Pradeep Sanjaya and Asian Para Games medalist, Sergeant Y.P.A.P Jayalath also attended the Press Conference.