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The Sri Lanka Athletics Associations (SLAA) while vehemently condemning the National Olympic Committee (NOC) for permitting 46 officials to accompany nine members of the Sri Lankan Olympic contingent has bemoaned the lack of a national sports policy.
President of the SLAA Sugath Tillekeratne said that approval should never have been granted for such a large number of officials to go on a joy ride to Rio in Brazil where the Olympics was held last month.

“It is unfortunate that sportsmen and sportswomen including those like Olympic medalist Susanthika Jayasinghe were not afforded any professional recognition,” he pointed out.  “This leads to disillusion and dropouts from among athletes who engage in sports”. Tillekaratne, a 400-metre Asian Games gold medallist, lamented that talent searches have turned out to be total failures.

“We cannot even provide athletes at present, with the basic facilities (including equipment) on a regular basis until the next Olympic Games”, he said.

Tillekeratne charged that they are prepared to bring these matters to the notice of President Maithripala Sirisena which they intend to do very soon.  To achieve results like the feats of Susanthika Jayasinghe, Tillekeratne said it was essential that the minimum facilities like international stadiums be established in the country.

“Three athletes qualified for the Olympics. The president of the SLAA or the secretary should have been given the opportunity to accompany them. Yet those from the sporting federations representing the wildcards, including those in swimming, wrestling and boxing were given the opportunity to attend,” rued Tillekeratne.

“We do not know how to treat high-performing athletes. They get no recognition. Sports and those who engage in it must receive the maximum State sponsorship and backing. The policy should not be to send a majority of officials or cronies abroad. Facilities and requirements are provided only intermittently,” he noted. (RLJ)