Sri Lanka to contest fencing debut at South Asian Games | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka to contest fencing debut at South Asian Games

The Sri Lanka fencing team for the South Asian Games: Seated from left: Manjula Fernando (captain), Shirani Siriwardena, Ajith Siyabalapitiya (president of the Fencing Federation), Medhavi Samarakoon, Asiri Wijesinghe (coach), Yohan Dabare (manager),Gayan Bandara (assistant coach). Standing middle row from left: Bhavani Sri, Dilki Hansani, Nilanaka Upamali, Nishani Fernando, Chathuani Bhagya, Piyumi Krishanthi (women’s captain), Chamodi Prathiha, Udayangani Abeynayake, Pushpa Kumari, Shiromani Chaturangi, Ashani Ratnamali and Harshani Roshika. Standing back row from left: Tharindu Madumal, Induwara Vishmitha, Aviskha Isurumal, Roshan Sameera, Chamara Nuwan, Kasun Subasinghe, Ranuka Ashan, Ayesh Dilanatha, Dushan Perera, Suresh Sudharshana and Anura Bandara

Fencing, one of the five sports featuring regularly since the modern Olympic Games began in 1896, is making its debut at the South Asian Games in Nepal next month and Sri Lanka will be fielding a 24-member team to contest the event.

Among the members of the fencing team is the former Sebastianite cricketer Manjula Fernando. Fencing is not new to Sri Lanka and Ajith Siyabalapitiya the president of the National Fencing Federation and his officials are keen on taking the sport to places outside Colombo with a view to spreading its message.

The South Asian Games is viewed as the best platform to showcase the sport.

Sri Lanka’s first international medals in fencing (sword fighting) were won at the 2010 South Asian Fencing Championships held in Chennai and the team can look forward to a happy outing according to Siyabalapitiya.

“We are already targeting at least four gold medals from this sport. Our fencers have the capability to even go in for six gold medals.

We have provided everything to the team and if they do it the right way from the start we can reach our target,” said Siyabalapitiya. “What is most important is the correct timing, precision and reading the mindset of the opponent.”

He said the team members prepared for the event from February this year and were selected based on their performances at the National Championships.

The team is coached by Asiri Wijesinghe and his assistant is Gayan Bandara. Before leaving for Nepal on November 28, the fencers will have a one week training camp in Diyatalawa in order to adjust to the cold climate in Nepal at this time of the year. Also in the tour party are two 16-year old girls and most of the players come from Colombo, Kandy, Pannala and Kuliyapitiya. The South Asian Fencing Championship was scheduled to be held in India last June but it could not get off the ground. In Sri Lanka besides the national tournament, there are also events where teams compete at club level while it is also picking up in some schools. Fencing equipment is expensive but the National body is also providing assistance to the sport at youth level according to Siyabalapitiya

“We like to see more medals in this sport and this South Asian Games is a good platform for them,” he said.