Lewke: Unmatched and unsurpassed | Sunday Observer

Lewke: Unmatched and unsurpassed

Nimal Lewke
Nimal Lewke

One of Kandy’s top sporting products, Nimal Lewke, was an outstanding sportsman, coach, administrator and top class referee with a vision to produce results besides being a crack police commando with the Special Task Force (STF) where he served as Commandant and Deputy Inspector General.

He excelled in boxing, played cricket and rugby and ended up as the president of Sri Lanka Rugby.

Lewke started his sporting career while at St. Sylvester’s College in Kandy as a boxer and learnt the finer points from a great coach Derick Raymond before going on to represent Sri Lanka at the King’s Cup Boxing championship in Bangkok, Thailand and the TATA sports festival in India in 1972. As a schoolboy he won the Best Boxer’s trophy at the Intermediate Championships in 1970.

Lewke’s rugby career began at Kandy Sports Club under the guidance of Maurice Perera and some of his team mates at the time were YC Chang, Gavin Stevens, Sunil Munasinghe, HM Kuthoos, Dr. DM Makuloluwa, Jeremy Perera, Deepal de Zoysa, Ranjan Rajendra, John Henry, George Jayasena, Lakshman Samarajeewa, Gamini Udugama and Rohan Abeysundera.

He then joined the Police as a sub-inspector and retired as a senior DIG having represented the law enforcement authority as a rugby scrum half and flanker. He was a member of four police teams that won the Clifford Cup in 1972 under Anton Benedict, 1973 under Nizam Hajireen, 1979 under Charles Wijewardene and in 1980 with him in the leadership role.

Lewke also wielded the willow for Police in the Sara Trophy cricket tournament and some of his team mates were TB Kehelgamuwa, GS Ratnayake, Franklyn Burke, Lal Wickrematunge and Anil Ratwatte. In addition to his prowess in boxing, rugby and cricket Lewke was also a member of the champion police pistol shooting team.

Lewke’s achievements in the field of rugby coaching have been unparalelled. When St. Peter’s College had seen the exit of their star players and were left with a young side, Lewke stepped up to the task and built up a young team superbly well in 1994 that was handed over to another illustrious coach Ajith Abeyratne in the following year that made them League champs in 1995.

In 2000 as head coach of S. Thomas’ College, Lewke guided them to become unbeaten schools League champions which stands as a record to this date.

But Lewke’s coaching turned truly professional when in 1995 he enrolled at Kandy SC which became Triple champs for the first time in history. In the following two years 1996 and ’97 Kandy SC won the Triple crown creating a record where a coach won the triple prize on three consecutive occasions.

As an administrator at Sri Lanka Rugby, Lewke played a leading role to entice foreign teams to visit the country at a time when security issues were a major concern during the civil war and one of the events hosted was the Asiad in 2007 for which he received accolades from President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Lewke also served as president of the Asian Rugby Football Union and was also the president of the Sri Lanka Rugby Referees Society in 2003/04.

To cap it all Lewke received the “Kreeda Bushana” or Lifetime Award at the Presidential Sports Awards this year for his excellent contribution to Sri Lanka sports as a sportsman, administrator, referee and coach.