Former badminton champion Priyantha Wijesekara talks about the problems plaguing sports in Sri Lanka at the monthly lecture organized by Save the Sports Sri Lanka held at the National Library and Documentation Services Board

The controversies associated with the Sri Lankan contingent that went for the Rio Olympics and the lack of scientific knowledge in the country’s sports scene were hot topics highlighted at the latest monthly public lecture conducted by Save the Sports Sri Lanka in Colombo on September 14 (Wednesday).

The session held under the title ‘Olympics and the white elephant’ saw four leading sports personalities express their views on how the island can revamp its ‘dilapidated’ ports structure.

Professor Arjuna de Silva stressed on the fact that Sri Lankans should temporary cease engaging in contact sports and concentrate on the use of sports science in disciplines where the islanders have a good chance in performing. Prof. Silva added that Sri Lankan athletes weren’t blessed with a strong lower body and this was a reason for the country’s sportsmen and women struggling at the global sports world.

The professor identified archery and pistol shooting as two disciplines where Sri Lankans can make a mark.
He also spoke of Sri Lanka’s chances at the 2017 Champions Trophy cricket tournament that will be hosted by England. Professor de Silva said that since Sri Lanka will be playing this tournament in England, national cricketers should consider training in the cool climes of Radella to get acclimatized with the weather conditions in the United Kingdom.
Another fact that was highlighted at the lecture held at the National Library and Documentation Services Board was the severe shortage of nutritious food for Sri Lankan athletes. The professor pointed out that some athletes were reported to be in the habit of sharing their nutritious meal with other family members due to poverty.

Lalith Priyantha, a former table tennis champion and administrator who also spoke on this subject underscored the fact that a great number of talented table tennis players are forced to neglect their training because they have to give priority to coaching assignments they have undertaken. “I had to give up my table tennis career prematurely because I needed to raise the money I needed to live by doing coaching,” is how Priyantha summed up the problem that has plagued this racket sport.

Former badminton champion Priyantha Wijesekara who also spoke at the session said that Sri Lankans as a whole needed a vision and plan for sport. Wijesekara also added that Sri Lanka needed a national sports policy. The former badminton champion said that he was delighted the sport he loved most, badminton, was represented by Niluka Karunaratne at the Rio Olympics. Responding to a question whether Karunaratne had reached Olympic standards at the time he qualified for the 2016 edition of the Games, Wijesekara said, “Olympics is not about an event where only the best in the world take part in. The Olympic concept encourages wide participation and hence Karanaratne’s appearance at the Olympics must be celebrated.” He said for a starter that Sri Lanka should forget world standard and try to reach the standards reached by India at badminton.

Former Sri Lanka cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga too underscored the fact that the islanders can make progress if they observe what India is doing in sport.
He said that the present cricket administrators had no plans for the future and added, “90% of what I have predicted has come true in the sport of cricket. See how far we will fall in international cricket scene very soon,” he said. Ranatunga added that he had made a request to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to appoint a committee to investigate the contingent that represented Sri Lanka at the Rio Olympics.
Save the Sports Sri Lanka President Chintaka Fernando was also present at the occasion.