While highlighting the need to have sports events to keep the youth
athletes interested in sports, Olympians Sunil Gunawardena and Sriyani
Kulawansa backed the Ministry of Education (MoE) decision to scrap
competitions for the Under-13 age category from 2021.
Asian Games medalist cited the quest of result oriented coaches to win
at any cost at lower age categories as one of the reasons for the
waning of standards at senior level.
interviewed coaches and enthusiasts for their views on the decision by
the MoE and their views were carried in these columns during the past
few days. The thoughts of Olympian Nagalingam Ethirveerasingam were
“I have introduced athletes to specific
event training after they reached a certain age. You take the case of
Damayanthi Dharsha or Shehan Ambepitiya, they were introduced to
specific event training when they were 15 plus or so. They continued
for years at senior level. There are coaches who ruin young athletes by
providing them with various supplements and persuading them to achieve
mindboggling performances at very young ages. But we can not see them
performing at senior level,” said Gunawardena.
Games gold medallist (1974), Gunawardena has been a top athletics
administrator and one of the best track and field coaches the country
has ever had.
“On this backdrop I back the Ministry of
Education decision to scrap competitive sports for the lower age
categories. But there should be events for the athletes in the lower
age categories to take part in,” opined Gunawardena.
who had a glittering athletics career stressed the importance of
promoting alternative events for kids in the wake of the Ministry
decision to scrap competitive sports for the Under-13 age category.
at the results of all island schools competitions. There are
outstanding performances at the Under-16 age category. But those who
achieve them are not seen at senior level.
“There are some
parents who are crazy on getting their children to achieve outstanding
performances at national level in sports at a very young age. There are
also coaches who are prepared to get them those instant results giving
little regard for the long term goals they could achieve. Yes. To stop
that this decision will help,” said Kulawansa who is currently a
project officer at the Ministry of Education but had no say in the
“If you stop all sports in Under-13
category that will end sports in Sri Lanka. Children should be
encouraged to do the sports they like. There are alternative methods to
keep them interested. ‘Cool volleyball and kids athletics are some
examples,” said Kulawansa.
Kulawansa who played volleyball, netball and elle at her early teenage years before concentrating on a track and field career still holds the national (100m Hurdles) hurdles record 24 years after it was established at the Atlanta Olympic Games.