The Sunday Leader

South Asian Games End – Where Are We Heading?

By Hishan Welmilla

The 400m relay team, Chaminda Wijekoon after winning the 1500 m event AND Gold Medalist Heshan Unamboowe

The curtain fell down at the 11th South Asian Games last Monday raising many an issue as far as Sri Lanka’s performances are concerned.
The high standard maintained by  Sri Lanka in the South Asian region in sports seems to be falling down with the rise of other nations in the region. The powerful position held by Sri Lanka in the games in the past has seen a serious deterioration at this year’s competition.
Sri Lanka finished fourth in the medals tally at the 11th edition of the South Asian Games going one step below the previous SA games position in Sri Lanka in 2006.
In the overall medals tally in this year’s competition Sri Lanka recorded 16 gold, 34 silver  and 52 bronze medals.
The major contribution to the gold medals came from track and field events. Sri Lankan athletes were able to record gold medals in Men’s 100m, Men’s 1500m, Women’s 200m, Women’s 400m, Men’s and Women’s 4x100m relay, Women’s Long and High Jump.
Sri Lanka lost a golden opportunity of winning a few more medals. The closest one was in the Men’s 200m dash. Sprinter Shehan Ambepitiya was just 0.3 seconds behind the gold medal winner. Apart from that Lankans were expecting two gold medals from Men’s 4x400m relay. But such hopes were destroyed by the Indians.
Seven silver medals and six bronze were also won in athletics. The performance in the athletic events was also comparatively low compared with the SAG 2006 where Sri Lanka recorded 14 gold medals,12 silver and 7 bronze medals.
The other sports which helped to win gold medals for Sri Lanka were Swimming (3), Cycling (1), Karate (1), Taekwondo (1), and Weight lifting (2). The performance in these sports is below standard as Sri Lanka was able to win five golds in Swimming, five golds in Cycling, two golds in Taekwondo and four in Karate but the gold medal tally in  Weightlifting has increased by 1 medal compared to SAG 2006 held in Sri Lanka.
Fathima Keshiya gave Sri Lanka’s first gold medal in  Taekwondo at SAG 2010 amidst a lot of barriers from the officials.
Sri Lanka could not win any gold medals in Shooting and Wushu games as they did in the previous Games. Lankans received 5 gold medals in Shooting and 4 gold medals in Wushu in SAG 2006.
In the team events non of the Sri Lankan teams went on to get a gold medal. Sri Lanka also lost the golden opportunity of becoming the first ever gold medalists in Under 21, T20 cricket when they were beaten by hosts Bangladesh by 6 runs.
In Men’s and Women’s Football  Sri Lanka had no luck. The performances of the women’s team was far below the standard but the men’s team was unlucky after beating defending champions Pakistan and holding India to a nil all draw.
Sri Lanka lost its position in Kabaddi in both of the games. Sri Lanka could only get the bronze medal in the Women’s’ category.
In men’s and women’s Handball it was another disaster as no medals were won but we were able to get two silver medals on the last occasion. Men’s hockey team lost their bronze position to go home without success.
The Sri Lankan volleyball team also has to be satisfied with the bronze medal.
In Boxing Sri Lanka got one silver and three bronze medals compared to 2 silver and 6 bronze in SAG 2006. Table Tennis got two silver and 5 bronze compared to 3 silver and 6 bronze in SAG 2006. The results in squash was also the same as they only got one bronze medal in the team event. Last time it was 1 silver and 3 bronze medals.
The Sri Lankan weight lifters gave Sri Lanka 2 gold medals. They were not awarded with gold last time but failed to maintain the silver medals tally and only won 2 medals compared to 5 at the last SAG. They got 2 bronze to their credit.
Wushu team also has not done well  compared with 2006. Sri Lanka won 4 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze in SAG 2006. But they could not win a single gold and only managed to get 2 silver and 3 bronze medals this time.
But in Judo, Sri Lanka was able to win more silver medals than the previous event claiming 4 medals this time.
Finally SAG 2010 ended on a serious note for our officials in various sporting governing bodies. The massage is that the day of the other regions surpassing Sri Lanka in sports is not very far.

1 Comment for “South Asian Games End – Where Are We Heading?”

  1. Mahinda

    First of all, we need a Sports Minister who understands sports and the Secretary to the Minister also should have a good knowledge of sports. Sri Lanka cannot afford to have square pegs in round holes!

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