Sri Lanka athletes get raw deal in contrast to their foreign rivals | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka athletes get raw deal in contrast to their foreign rivals

14 May, 2021
The Sugathadasa stadium the venue for the Nationals
The Sugathadasa stadium the venue for the Nationals

Sri Lanka Athletics (SLA) has decided to conduct only nine events at the National championship 2021 to be held at the Sugathadasa Stadium on May 22.

Following this decision SLA has left out publishing the schedule for other events that has left the athletes bemused begging for competitions to showcase their talents and what can be achieved to qualify for the Olympics.

All their enthusiasm comes to an anti climax after months of training amid several obstacles both physical and mental due to the present situation in the country.

“Are we getting a fair chance to compete so that the officials can judge us on our performances? Do we matter for them?” asked a group of national athletes who did not wish to be named for obvious reasons.

US based high jumper Ushan Thiwanka Perera and Italy based sprinter Yupun Abeykoon shattered the Sri Lanka record twice in a short span of time to accumulate the necessary points with each competition they faced.

“Yupun and Ushan are lucky to be in those countries that have given them better facilities. If they were stuck here, their achievements of 2.30m and 10.15 secs would not have been achieved to realize their Olympic dreams,” they added.

The National championship had been postponed several times. It was first to be held in April and put off for May 20-23. Finally SLA announced that it will be held over four weekends from May 22 onwards.

Several athletes who are not scheduled to take part on May 22 and 23 have decided to pack their bags and go home where they can continue their training.

Most of these athletes have left their homes and are staying in boarding houses in close proximity to their training grounds. They train six days a week with the hope of achieving better timings or distances according to another group of athletes.

SLA has conducted only two national competitions during the past 17 months in contrast to other countries that are in worse situations where the coronvirus is concerned but have never changed their sporting schedules.

Italy and the USA are two of the countries badly hit by the virus but continued with their sports activities without postponements.

The SLA president Maj. Gen. Palitha Fernando said that they have selected nine events to the held on May 22 targeting the Olympics and have kept the rest of the events before the Olympic qualification deadline on June 29.