Judoka and gymnast to hoist the Lion as Sri Lanka Olympic captains | Sunday Observer

Judoka and gymnast to hoist the Lion as Sri Lanka Olympic captains

4 July, 2021
Milka de Silva-Chamara Dharmawardana
Milka de Silva-Chamara Dharmawardana

Judoka Chamara Nuwan Dharmawardana and gymnast Milka Gehani de Silva will lead the Sri Lanka contingent at the forthcoming XXX11th Olympic Games in Tokyo as the men’s and women’s overall team captains.

Unlike in previous Olympic Games where a single overall captain was appointed, the Tokyo Games organisers have requested that a country name an overall men’s captain and an overall women’s captain. Thus, Dharmawardana and De Silva will proudly carry the Lion flag at the opening ceremony on July 23.

Dharmawardana will be making it to his second Olympic Games, having competed in Rio de Janeiro. He excelled in the 2016 Games making it to the third round and qualified to compete in Tokyo after he secured his place in the rankings while De Silva booked her place in artistic gymnastics on merit, setting a new mark in Lankan gymnastics.

Badminton player Niluka Karunaratne, who is down to compete in the men’s singles, will be in his third Olympics after London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 and is the most experienced Olympian who has led his country in Brazil five years ago.

But the first Sri Lankan to book a place was horse show-jumping exponent Matilda Karlsson who is based in Germany but will represent the land of her birth in the sport of equestrian.

The last to enter the Sri Lanka contingent were athletes Yupun Abeykoon in the men’s 100m and Nimali Liyanaarachchi in the women’s 800m when the IAAF closed its qualifying deadline on June 29. Abeykoon has registered a career-best 10.15 seconds this season and Sri Lanka’s fastest man based in Italy said that he will make every effort to improve on his Sri Lanka record and run under the 10.1-mark. He ran 10.09 in his lead up meets but that was not counted as it was an excessive wind-assisted race.

The others in the Sri Lanka Olympic contingent are rifle shooter Tehani Egodawela and swimmers Matthew Abeysinghe and Aniqah Gaffoor. Abeysinghe represented Sri Lanka at the last Olympics and is the younger brother of Andrew who has won South Asian Games gold medals.

Egodawela will fire in the women’s 10m air rifle while Abeysinghe and Gaffoor will swim in men’s 100m freestyle and women’s 100m butterfly stroke respectively.

Nilani Ratnayake, who settled for 49th place in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase, narrowly missed a place in the team and has a slim chance, if a selected athlete withdraws before the stipulated time.

The nine-member Sri Lanka team will have Gamini Jayasinghe as Chef-de-Mission and specially designated Covid-19 liaison doctor Himan de Silva.

Meanwhile, National Olympic Committee President Suresh Subramaniam and Secretary General Maxwell de Silva will represent Sri Lanka at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) annual sessions to be held prior to the Games.

Subramaniam declared they plan to strike medals in 2024 and 2028 saying the NOC has put in enough efforts for future medal prospects and was confident that they could strike a medal within the next seven years.

He said Brandix and Hidaramani have already come in a big way as official sponsors of the Sri Lanka team and more sponsorships will be finalised and thanked Crysbro and MAS Holdings for powering the talent search programs.

This is the second time that Japan is host of the Summer Olympics with the first also being in Tokyo in 1964 making it the first city in Asia to host the Games twice. Japan also hosted the Winter Olympics in 1972 and 1998.

Tokyo was first scheduled to host the 1940 Summer Olympics but pulled out in 1938.

Sri Lanka contingent for the Tokyo Olympics:

Chamara Nuwan Dharmawardana (men’s overall team captain), (Judo), Milka Gehani de Silva (women’s overall team captain), (Gymnastics/artistic), Matilda Karlsson (equestrian), Niluka Karunaratne (badminton men’s singles), Tehani Egodawela (shooting women’s 10m air rifle), Matthew Abeysinghe (swimming 100m freestyle), Aniqah Gaffoor (swimming 100m butterfly), Yupun Abeykoon (men’s 100m), Nimali Liyanaarachchi (women’s 800m), Gamini Jayasinghe (Chef-de-Mission), Himan de Silva (Covid-19 Liaison Officer).