Hemasiri Fernando, President, National Olympic Committee, said that nothing better could have been expected from the Sri Lanka team at the Beijing Olympics, as they had failed miserably in regional and Asian championships in the lead up to the mega event.
`A long time before the event, I knew that this was going to happen. When our team failed miserably at the Asian Games, I knew that our chances were bleak at the Olympics,` said Fernando in an interview with The Island on Monday.
`Our team won just one silver medal and two bronzes at the Asian Games. From that moment I knew that we were not going to impress at the Olympics,` said Fernando. Sri Lanka won silver in the women s 100 meters (Susanthika Jayasinghe) and bronzes in the women s 200 meters and men s 4x400 meters relays.
Reiterating his stance of giving more emphasis to regional events, Fernando said that sports administrators should focus on regional sports events first, to have a realistic chance of winning medals at higher levels.
`We failed at the South Asian Games as well. The number of medals won in 1991 and 2006 Games is an indication that we have gone downhill.`
However, Fernando was happy that Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge, who was in Beijing, had taken into consideration his recommendations.
`I am happy that Minister Gamini Lokuge has taken note of the importance of focusing on regional sports events. And I am confident that he will spearhead the programme to uplift the standard of sports,` said Fernando.
Meanwhile, Fernando stressed the importance of bringing in foreign expertise to groom the talent available in the island. `Sports governing bodies should bring in foreign expertise to train our athletes,` he said.