Susanthika and ex-coach on mission for missing medal | Sunday Observer

Susanthika and ex-coach on mission for missing medal

Susanthika Jayasinghe and her one time coach Antonio Campbell are on a course to discover Sri Lanka’s next Olympic medallist  (Pic: by Vipula Amarasinghe)
Susanthika Jayasinghe and her one time coach Antonio Campbell are on a course to discover Sri Lanka’s next Olympic medallist (Pic: by Vipula Amarasinghe)

It is almost 20 years since Susanthika Jayasinghe won a medal at an Olympic Games and ever since Sydney 2000, Sri Lanka continues to miss out on a medal, a long time to say the least with no sign of any athlete repeating the performance in the near future.

Jayasinghe has now been made the director of the High Performance program at the National Olympic Committee (NOC) and is determined to produce another medal winner in her new position.

She aims to do it in partnership with her former coach, American Antonio Campbell, who she met at the World Athletics championships in Doha and invited him to help find that elusive medallist.

“The old coaches are gone and the new ones lack knowledge on more advanced subjects in coaching. We have to rise to that high level in performance and the coaches have to study the advanced methods and areas for development. It is not easy and the athletes must also dedicate themselves to follow simple rules very strictly,” declared Susanthika.

She also said that an athlete should first train to win a medal at the South Asian Games and then try for a medal at the Asian Games and the most difficult will be at the Olympic Games. Campbell said that working with Susanthika was a pleasure and they will be setting up a training program that will help discover young talented athletes in the country, an area that has been neglected. Campbell will also help the coaches to set up clinics to make them better able to do their job.

“The coaches must be able to go out to different villages and find the talent and bring them to Colombo. For this we must make sure that coaches are properly educated to conduct seminars and clinics to help athletes become better performers,” said Campbell. “Instead of bringing foreign coaches who don’t understand the culture and language here, it would be better to develop the Sri Lankan coaches and this is the best way for the future.

They will be able to convey the information and techniques to the athletes easily.

“This is my belief, but it is going to take some time to develop the coaches. But we are also looking at immediate goals to get some athletes ready by next year,” added Campbell. The NOC and the Sports Ministry are also looking to obtain results from this venture and hence the reason for making Susanthika the director of the High Performance program.

“We are going to be result-oriented. We are going to find the talent and work hard to have at least one athlete who will be able to raise the Sri Lanka flag at the Tokyo Olympics,” said Campbell confidently.

“I started talking to young athletes and coaches to let them know about going forward. We should have the best prepared coaches to guide these athletes. In the past the coaches have been taking Level exams to make sure that they are properly prepared to deal with the future and bring up young athletes. We don’t have even one athlete who can match Susanthika’s standard. It’s a shame,” opined Campbell.

“I accepted Susanthika’s invitation because she wanted me to realize her dream of making Sri Lanka a force in athletics. It’s going to take some time to have a big team. In the short term we must find one or two good athletes now to give the sports minister immediate ratification.

“Most of the time kids don’t talk another language to communicate. The coach should be able to speak English so that they can easily exchange their ideas, because he is representing the team. We have to make sure the coach is well trained to make an athlete feel easy in front of large crowds of about 30,000,” added Campbell.