Shady selection of Sri Lanka wrestlers for world meet | Sunday Observer

Shady selection of Sri Lanka wrestlers for world meet

3 October, 2021

Questions also raised on wisdom of contesting major events where medals cannot be won while wrestlers decamp and don’t return:

Five wrestlers are representing Sri Lanka at the 17th World Wrestling Championships that commenced in Oslo, Norway on October 2 and apart from two wrestlers who found funds to pay for their travel and accommodation, the rest had to raise their own funds.

The team left Sri Lanka on the night of September 29 having faced difficulties to obtain foreign exchange which was originally refused by the bank.

The president of the Sri Lanka Wrestling Association (SLWA) Sarath Hewawitharana spoke of their obstacles during an appearance on television and on this plight some officials from the Ministry appealed to the bank to release the money they needed to make it possible to travel.

The contingent comprised four men and one woman plus the coach and the manager. They had to first travel to India to obtain the visas to Norway as the embassy is based there.

The Sunday Observer learns that two more names have been added to the list of the contingent for reasons best known only to them.

From the five wrestlers who were selected two have been replaced by some other names. The sole woman wrestler is the second best as the best is on the injured list. Out of the men only two are from the original list who were selected.

Over 173 wrestlers from 52 countries are expected to participate in this championship that was originally scheduled to be held in 2019 but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is also learnt that all those wrestlers who participated at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be making their appearance.

Under these circumstances the president of the SLWA Sarath Hewawitharana said that it will be difficult for the Sri Lankan wrestlers to even imagine winning a medal.

He said that Sri Lanka has never won a medal at a world wrestling meet before which raises the obvious question, why send a team at all?

History shows that wrestlers who went to participate in world championships decamped in search of greener pastures and did not return to the country.

On one such tour to Canada in 1993 only one returned while the rest of the eleven member contingent stayed behind.

This included some officials from the Association.

An official of the SLWA, who wished to remain anonymous said that wrestlers are known to decamp when they went on trips to wealthy countries like the USA, Italy and Japan.

“This time too there could be a plan for some of the wrestlers to desert camp in Norway,” he said.

There was a ruling issued by the Sports Ministry that should any athlete stay behind in the country where the event is being held, the governing body of that sport should take the responsibility.


Madushanka Wijesuriya (Captain) – 74kg, Charles Fernando – 65kg, Anil Munasingha – 70kg and Suresh Fernando – 70kg and Nilukshi Perera (62kg). Coach: Rajitha Fernando. Manager: Donald Indrawansa.