TOKYO, July 29. – National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOC) President Suresh Subramaniam said that Sri Lanka will implement a methodical programme when sending participants for future international meets starting from next year’s Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.
Addressing a news conference at Comfort Suites Tokyo Bay in Chiba Prefecture yesterday, Sri Lanka NOC chief stressed the need to give more and more training and competition opportunities, if Sri Lanka is to pin their hopes on medal prospects in future.
“We must fully concentrate on comprehensive training programmes and at the same time, we should afford them adequate high level training at high performance centres ,” he said.
He said the most prospective sportsmen and women should be selected to offer them the right training, aiming at future international events.
“We want to give equal training opportunities to all sports. But at the same time, we must think about identifying the sports we could produce medallists in near future,” said the former Sri Lanka Davis Cup tennis star.
“It should be a comprehensive exercise and we need the support of everybody. The NOC, Ministry of Sports, Ministry of Education and the National Sports Associations must put a collective effort. Especially, the national controlling bodies of the respective sport must put a greater effort to identify their training and competition schedules.
We could only give them the backing they need,” said Subramaniam, a product of Royal who assumed the NOC top slot only a couple of years ago. Subramaniam was associated with the Secretary General of the NOC Maxwell de Silva, Chef-de-Mission Gamini Jayasinghe and Press Attaché Wing Commander (Rtd) Chandana Liyanage at the news conference.
NOC Secretary General De Silva said, for the first time in history, they had spent Rs. 3.5 million on out of competition clothing. Obtaining the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ratification for competition clothing and out of competition clothing is also a standard requirement, which the NOC has obtained long before. However, he said parties with vested interests have raised baseless allegations about the attire of the Sri Lanka contingent’s competition clothing.
“If you had carefully checked the clothing of our competitors, you could see that. You don’t put the county or the flag on both arms. If you had carefully seen the attire in which shuttler Niluka Karunaratne and gymnast Milka Gehani competed, you could see their name and NOC name or flag displayed properly. This type of silly criticism by vested interests will only demoralize the Sri Lanka team,” he said.
De Silva said some competitors look at a particular kit as lucky attire that had brought them fortune. “In that case, we don’t want to upset them and allow them with their so-called fortunate kit,” he said. De Silva said they did their level best to give training opportunities in the lead up to the Olympics.
“We did our best to bring our most qualified team here. When only three qualified to compete on merit, we used all our channels to get six more slots through wildcards and other slots. That is a great achievement. Similarly, we managed to get 14 slots for media including nine journalists and photographers. There was a time we were given only two or three media slots before 2000. Since then, we have come a long way,” he said.
The NOC Secretary General said they successfully secured an extension for gymnast Milka Gehani’s contract. Accordingly, the 18-year-old Lankan lass who trained in Japan for the last two years could continue her training here until the 2014 Olympic Games in Paris, France. De Silva said the NOC wants to secure similar scholarships for most prospective Sri Lankans targeting the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.
“But at the same time, that is not a guarantee that they would go to the Olympics. We want to train three or four people for one slot. Then we could get the best at Olympic level while others, if they come good, will be directed to the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, or even South Asian Games,” he said.
Wing Commander (Rtd) Liyanage too said criticizing this type of unholy matters is an attempt to bring the image and morale of the team down. He asked the silly critics to look at the broader opening to the county’s sportsmen and women, rather than trying to demoralize them for nothing.
Chef-de-Mission Jayasinghe said participating at Olympic level alone is a great experience for Sri Lanka. “The next generation of sportsmen and women are looking at Olympic level. Whatever we achieve here is an inspiration to them back home. We must motivate young and talented people to work hard and become next generation Olympians,” he said.
“We may not win medals here but our participation is a great inspiration to produce a medallist once more, after sprinter Susanthika Jayasinghe in 2000. If our development programme continues well, we should be able to produce an Olympic medallist by 2028,” Jayasinghe said.