Gomes slams NOC for attempting to manipulate boxing selections | Sunday Observer

Gomes slams NOC for attempting to manipulate boxing selections

7 August, 2022

Boxing Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) president Dian Gomes was outraged at National Olympic Committee (NOC) president Suresh Subramaniam’s insinuation that some deserving athletes were prevented from representing the country at the XXII Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Sri Lanka’s national boxing selection committee headed by Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya (rtd) had ranked eight men and three women pugilists on their performance at three trial meets including the Layton Cup.

Only five men and three women boxers were approved according to the allocation for boxing in the Commonwealth Games team calculator for Sri Lanka.

However, attempts were made by certain people to influence the NOC president Subramaniam to promote a boxer who was ranked eighth on the list to gain a back-door entry for the Games. Subramaniam, who is a member of the National Sports Selection Committee, acknowledged that the NOC was keen to take all the boxers and accused Gomes of preventing it.

“There is a due process to represent the country. There were five slots for men and the best five were selected by the selection committee. Number 8 who is the last ranked boxer is not up to the mark and cannot be sent by influencing the NOC. Meritocracy is a must at Sri Lanka boxing. We will not bow down to political influence,” said Gomes, furious at attempts to manipulate selections and attempts to portray the BASL in poor light.

In fact, the boxer concerned Niraj Wijewardena was not even selected to the national pool originally after his pathetic performance in the first selection trial and did not impress at the professional boxing event in Dubai. Looking more like a bodybuilder than a boxer, he did not take part in the Layton Cup and won the 75kg weight class in the final trial but failed to impress the national selectors.

The BASL stayed firm in their commitment to select boxers on merits and went by the decision of their national selectors comprising eminent personnel. It would have set a bad precedent for any sport if decisions made by a national federation are manipulated to suit the whims and fancies of individuals.