Susanthika begins a new crusade | Sunday Observer

Susanthika begins a new crusade

4 October, 2020
Susanthika Jayasinghe receiving a special replica from her first school Uduwaka Kanishta Vidyalaya presented by a student    in the presence of Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa and State Minister Thenuka Vidanagamage
Susanthika Jayasinghe receiving a special replica from her first school Uduwaka Kanishta Vidyalaya presented by a student in the presence of Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa and State Minister Thenuka Vidanagamage

‘The only thing that Sports Ministers did was come and go and nothing positive happened’ :

Two decades after winning Sri Lanka’s only Olympic medal in half a century, Susanthika Jayasinghe has decided to move out on a crusade to find the next medallist which she contends is somewhere in the island’s rural set-up and not in the city.

“Sports must be first developed at village level and that will lead the way to develop sports in the whole country,” declared the 200 metre Silver medallist at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

She made the remark at a felicitation ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of her winning the Silver medal on her return to her old school Uduwaka Kanishta (Junior) Vidyalaya where she began her school athletic career.

The school is situated in a small village called Warakapola in the Sabaragamuwa Province.

“Today I came to my village with the medal around my neck and I am proud about it. We can talk about the facilities needed to develop sports without any fear and the difficulties faced by athletes and the requirements needed to develop their skills. The new Sports Minister (Namal Rajapaksa) knows about all these as he is a former sportsman. I think he is ready to start a new chapter in Sri Lanka sports,” said Jayasinghe.

“Many Sports Ministers came and went and tried various methods to develop sports but without success. In the early days parents tried to do their best for their children amid financial difficulties. My father was a driver and faced many difficulties to provide for me,” she recalled.

“Today in most other countries sportsmen get a good income through sports but not in this country. The main reason is we don’t have a good long term plan to move forward. I even entered politics hoping to do a lot more for sports at village level. Unfortunately I could not get the support from the politicians to implement my plans.”

Jayasinghe noted that the present principal of the school was doing a good job that students can look forward to with the future in mind as Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa and State Minister Thenuka Vidanagamage attended the function to mark 20 years of winning the Olympic medal.

“I hope they will also help to develop the playground here,” said Jayasinghe.

Her first coach Dhammika Wanigasinghe was present on the occasion and Jayasinghe said that coaches needed more support.

“As an Olympic medal winner, I must say that we must take sports to the villages. We must select the talented athletes and give them scholarships as soon as possible,” she said.

Minister Namal Rajapaksa has already made arrangements to construct the Uduwaka Kanishta Vidyalaya ground as well as a training centre and gymnasium to develop the school sports.

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