Will Sri Lanka’s Matilda waltz again after Olympic Games are halted? | Sunday Observer

Will Sri Lanka’s Matilda waltz again after Olympic Games are halted?

Matilda Karlsen
Matilda Karlsen

Sri Lanka’s only current Olympian Matilda Karlsen may have a verdict delivered in her favour with enough time to fight her case following the postponement of the Games by one year in the aftermath of the coronavirus.

Matilda was the first Sri Lankan to qualify for the Tokyo Games in July 2020 as an equestrian show jumper but was disqualified on the grounds that she secured a passage after the deadline for qualification had passed.

She is currently fighting a legal battle to prove her legitimacy and the Sri Lanka Equestrian Association has thrown its weight behind her.

“We are hopeful of a favourable outcome to allow her to participate at the Olympics and our lawyers are doing everything possible to ensure this,” said Suranjith Premadasa who heads the Sri Lanka Equestrian Association.

Matilda was born in Kandy to Sri Lankan parentage and was fostered by a Swedish couple as a baby. In Sweden she developed a liking for horses and even represented her adopted country at overseas meets but decided to return and represent the land of her birth, a decision she said was not easy to make.

Meanwhile the postponement of the Olympic Games has meant that changes to qualifying standards which had already been completed will have to be redone creating a tough ask for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in formulating new qualifying standards once again for the Games as the qualifying standards arrived earlier becomes null and void.

This situation arises as the time factor of the postponement is one year and the previous qualifiers for the Tokyo Games will be given a new time period and qualifying standards once the new dates for the Games are announced officially.

Retired Major General Palitha Fernando the President of the Sri Lanka Athletic Association speaking to the Sunday Observer said the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics has opened doors for Sri Lanka to make another effort to prepare athletes to reach the qualifying standards.

“This can be achieved through dedication of sportsmen and women through their hard work to reach the qualifying standards for the Games. Our coaches and other officials too should come out with their best to take the maximum benefit and advantage,” said Fernando.

He said officials of all sports disciplines affiliated to the Olympic movement must take great care to adhere to rules and regulations stipulated by the IOC.

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