Funds cut for medal-winning weight lifters | Sunday Observer

Funds cut for medal-winning weight lifters

22 November, 2020

Weightlifting has been the most successful sport considering the number of medals won in the last four editions of the Commonwealth Games (CWG) and Sri Lanka is now ranked within the top three in the Commonwealth countries since last April, but still the competitors face cuts to receive funds.

It was Chinthana Vidanage who started the trend by winning a gold medal at the 2006 CWG in Melbourne which was the only medal for Sri Lanka in 2006. He followed it up with a silver medal in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games while Sudesh Peiris won a bronze medal.

In 2014, Peiris won the only medal for Sri Lanka in the CWG in Glasgow.

The CWG in Gold Coast Australia in 2018 brought the most number of medals in this sport. Indika Dissanayake won a silver medal while Chathuranga Lakmal and Hansani Gomes won bronze medals. Moreover, Thilanka Palagasinghe finished fourth and Chinthana Vidanage finished fifth to become the most successful team from Sri Lanka.

The winners were promised Rs 100,000 per month by the Sports Ministry till the next CWG to continue with their training but as usual most of the promises were not fulfilled and their funding was brought down to 60,000 for the four lifters (three medal winners and Vidanage).

To make matters worse with the Covid19 pandemic the lifters’ funding too were stopped and they did not receive a rupee for May and June.

Reason for the stoppage of funding came about with the Association being instructed to prepare new guidelines and terms to select the suitable athletes.

This was after the new move by the Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa to use the Sports Council and the high performance committee to formulate a proper mechanism to fund top athletes.

Meanwhile Minister Rajapaksa visited the training centre in Mahiyawa Kandy on Sunday and saw first hand the dilapidated conditions inside. He has promised to build a two story facility in the premises.

With the Western Province being locked down the weight lifters are now training in Kandy under national coach RB Wickremasinghe. They are now housed in a hostel in Tennekumbura.

The 2016 Olympian Sudesh Peiris still trains in Colombo while the CWG gold medallist Vidanage trains in Kurunegala.