The Sunday Leader

Sharmal To Represent Sri Lanka At Youth Olympic Games

Sharmal Dissanayake, a student of Royal College Colombo, has been selected to represent Sri Lanka at the forthcoming Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China from 14th to 26th August 2014.

This is the first time a Sri Lankan is participating in an Olympic Game in Tennis. Even the two most populated countries in the world, host-country China and India have not been able to field a tennis player in the Youth Olympic Games. Only Japan, South Korea and Sri Lanka are among Asian countries to take part in Tennis in the Men’s Tennis event.

Sharmal has taken the local tennis scene by storm and is viewed as the brightest young prospect in the sport today.
Sharmal played his first national match when he was just 8 years old, in the under 10 division. He won that match, and he continued to win in the same division for the next two years. In fact, a glance at his national match record is enough to impress anyone, because ever since that first match he has usually been either the champion or runner-up in his age group.  The Tennis Association, recognizing Sharmal’s talent, decided to enter him in a World Juniors tournament when he was just 10 years old. He qualified in the Under 14 age group, and proudly represented Sri Lanka in New Delhi as one of the youngest team members. Since that tournament in 2007, Sharmal has played a string of international matches as well.

Just a year later he was a semifinalist in Dhaka, Bangladesh for the 14 and Under Junior Asian Championship Zone II. In 2009 he won two bronze medals and one gold in the junior Asian Championship Zone II tournament in Malaysia. At the same tournament in January 2010 he picked up a couple of silver medals and a gold.

Sharmal reached the pinnacle of his tennis career when he was named in the Sri Lanka Davis Cup squad earlier this year.

The Youth Olympic Games is an elite sporting event for young people from all over the world. An event distinct from other youth sports events, as it also integrate a unique Culture and Education Programme (CEP), based around five main themes: Olympism, Social Responsibility, Skills Development, Expression and Well-being and Healthy Lifestyles.

The sports programme is based on that of the Olympic Games, with 28 sports featured on the summer programme and seven on the winter programme. In addition, the programme also includes exciting new disciplines and formats, such as 3-on-3 basketball, ice hockey skills challenge and mixed gender and mixed National Olympic Committee (NOC) events.

Away from the field of play and through a variety of fun and interactive activities, workshops and team-building exercises, the CEP gives the participating athletes the opportunity to learn about the Olympic values, explore other cultures and develop the skills to become true ambassadors of their sport.

The Youth Olympic Games aim to bring together talented young athletes aged from 15 to 18 from around the world (205 National Olympic Committees participated in Singapore 2010 and 69 in Innsbruck 2012).

The Summer Youth Olympic Games feature over 3,500 athletes and are held over a 12-day period, while the Winter Youth Olympic Games feature over 1,100 athletes and last 10 days.

Non-athlete participants, namely the Young Reporters, Ambassadors and Athlete Role Models, are also an integral part of the Youth Olympic Games experience.

Just like the Olympic Games, the Youth Olympic Games are held every four years. The first summer edition was held in Singapore from 14 to 26 August 2010, and the first winter edition was held in Innsbruck, Austria, from 13 to 22 January 2012.

The 2nd Summer Youth Olympic Games will be held in Nanjing, China, from August 16 to 28 in 2014 and the 2nd Winter Youth Olympic Games will be held in Lillehammer, Norway, in February 2016. The 3rd Summer Youth Olympic Games will be held in Buenos Aires in Argentina in 2018.

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