double international at 19
The youngest double international at 19
is young Dejan de Zoysa. He is a double international in rowing and
Motor Sports, both being high intensity Sports.
As a 12 year old young Thomian
schoolboy (he has just left school) he was the Caltex Open Prokart
Champion beating an enviable field of senior racing drivers.
Identified as an exceptionally talented racing driver he was racing
wheel-to wheel with Go-Kart stars Yoga Perera and Romani de Silva at
13 years in an international class machine. Three years later at 16
he was a Formula Ford winner having got the best timing at Pannala
and Katukurunda. He was also the international class Go-Kart
He is now the first Sri Lankan to drive
for Minardi team Asia in the 2005 formula BMW Asia series, which is
a stepping stone to Formula 1 racing. He will race in 7 countries
this season including Australia, Japan, Korea, China, Malaysia and
Thailand. He was awarded national colours for Motor sports by none
other than the Minister of Sports recently.
On the waters of the Beira, he rowed
for S.Thomas College Mt Lavinia captaining the rowing team in 2004
winning all the titles on offer including the nationals. He
represented the country in rowing at the SAF Games 2004 winning two
silver medals at Islamabad. He was also awarded the prestigious
oarsman of the year 2004 by the Colombo Rowing Club (CRC).
At school he represented his school in
U 15 cricket and swam in the junior and senior public schools
swimming championships. He was awarded the "Thomian Blue"
in 2003, the highest sporting award of the school, exclusively for
those who represent the country in any sport at the highest level.
Dejan who is in actual fact Sri Lanka's
only driver who has the talent and skill to drive Formula 1 in the
future, needs the support of the entire country if he is to reach
his goal and bring honour and glory to his mother country.
flavour for rugby
By Ranil Prematilake
SLRFU's Secretary Dilroy Fernando in a
press communiqu‚ revealed that The Public Schools Wanderers, a
club dating back to the year 1940, formed by Charles Burton (A Fleet
Street journalist) comprising of players from Ireland, England and
Wales who have donned the respective national jerseys in age groups
of under 18, Under 19 and Under 21 for their countries have
confirmed a tour to Sri Lanka and are billed to play against the
Western Province Rugby Union on June 14 at Longden Place, Combined
Defence Services Rugby team on June 22 at Army Grounds, Galle Face,
the Central Province Invitation XV on June 19 at Nittawela and the
Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union President's XV on June 16
at CH & FC grounds.
The National Selectors have provided
the opportunity for the players who missed out on selection for the
qualifier against Thailand to make an impact to gain the nod for the
Singapore game on the June 25 2005. Prominent amongst them being
Kandy Sports Clubs Imran Bisthemin the No 8 forward and probably the
most improved player in the squad. His inclusion is sure to give
rise to controversy as the incumbent Dushan Lewke too has been
performing well. Also making strong claims would be another Kandyan
duo of Dilip Selvam and Sean Wijesinghe for the flank forwards
CR thumps Air Force
The resumption of the Caltex 'A'
division league tournament on Friday at Longden Place saw the
continuance of the impressive run of the title contenders CR &
FC. The red jerseys cashed in on another rich haul of tries in
recording a 56 points to nil victory over the Airmen. Ten tries were
scored in all of which three were goaled by the experienced Asanga
Rodrigo. CR opened scoring through half back Zulki Hameed who
followed in support a quick tap to fall near the left corner flag.
Rajith Jayasundera went over the goal line soon after off a second
phase three quarter move.
Then came the first of the four tries
in the game for winger Dhanushka Pushpakumara, who joined the line
to add the finishing touches. Pushpakumara's try number two followed
courtesy a regulation three quarter move. Wekadapola added another
try off a forwards rush. Pushpe' hat trick was a result of a Asanga
Rodrigos scorching run backed by Mohammed Mushtaq and support flowed
from the former Kandy speedster.
At the short whistle of Referee Pradeep
Fernando the winners led 34 -00. After the turnaround tries were
scored by Charith Kodagoda, S. Swarnatilake, Wekadapola and
on the singaporeans
By T.M.K. Samat
IT IS understandable if Sri Lanka,
after their impressive win over Thailand last week, regard highly
their chances against Singapore, in a World Cup qualifier scheduled
for June 25 at Longden Place. They were much the better team
Saturday last at Suphan Buri, and honestly, deserved a victory
margin twice as much as the eventual ten points.
form isn't the only reason for Sri Lanka's optimism. Home advantage
will no doubt have a significant bearing. And of late Longden Place
has been Sri Lanka's happy hunting ground: last year they beat the
Thais and the year before, Chinese-Taipei, no matter that both were
over development sides. As well, this is Singapore's first World Cup
Qualifying match, which leaves them better prepared, albeit
The view is rosy. But the rose-tinted
glasses could so easily fall off. It would be a tad presumptuous to
think that our convincing triumph of last week has Singapore
shivering in their boots. It is advisable to remind Mallikarachchi's
men that the last Asiad listings had Singapore one above Thailand,
fifth and sixth respectively. Sri Lanka was tenth. In the play-off
for 5/6 places, Singapore won Thailand, 41/34.
If victories are forecast by
calculators, then, Sri Lanka's 10-point victory margin over the
Thais is three points better than Singapore's. But it doesn't
workout that way. One factor the Sri Lankans will have to reckon
with which they didn't have to against the all-national Thai outfit
is, the Singaporeans will include expatriates. "As far as I am
aware Singapore will field five expats, mostly New Zealanders,"
said coach, George Simpkin, himself a Kiwi. "They aren't going
to be pushover."
So it's just as well the Sri Lankans
won well against Thailand. The feel-good factor will certainly carry
through to the Singapore match. But how long it will endure is
another matter. It would be na‹ve to assume that we've touched
levels of perfection. "All of the seven tries we scored against
Thailand were carefully constructed. And we got into positions where
we might have swamped the Thais, but thenallowed them back into the
game through our own mistakes," said Simpkin. "You can't
afford those sorts of mistakes in international rugby."
Whatever the outcome on June 25, Sri
Lanka's win last week has assured it of place in the next phase of
the competition. Two teams from the Sri Lanka/Thailand/Singapore
group will qualify to meet the top two from the Kazakhstan/
India/Guam group. Finishing second would mean a probable meeting
with the Kazakhs. A win over Singapore presents a more comfortable
meeting with either Guam or India.
So, there's a lot at stake, come June
Grand Prix 2005
By Hishan Welmilla
The prestigious Asian Athletics Grand
Prix fires off next Saturday (June 18) featuring the continent's
best athletes. Indonesia will host the first series of the 2005
Asian Athletics Grand Prix in Sidoarjo, East Java.
The one-day competition, which is
scheduled to take place on June 18, will include races in the 100,
400, and 800-metre sprints, the 110-metre hurdles, long jump, high
jump, shot put and javelin throwing for men; and the 100, 400,
1,500-metre sprints, 400-metre hurdles, long jump, high jump, shot
put, and discuss throwing for women.
Sixty seven male and 55 female athletes
from 18 Asian countries and territories will attend the event,
according to the organising board, Indonesian Athletics Association
Rohan Pradeep Kumara and Prasanna
Sampath Amarasekera are the only athletes who qualified from Sri
Lanka and will be in action in this year's Asian Grand Prix.
Singapore would hold the second leg on June 21, followed by Songkhla
in Thailand on June 24.
ÿVeteran athlete, coach, Sunil
Gunawardana named manager of the Sri Lankan contingent which will
take part in the Asian Grand Prix series to be held in Indonesia,
Singapore and Thailand later this month at the committee meeting of
the Athletics Association of Sri Lanka (AASL) held with much
controversy on last Sunday.
set at Lords
By Hishan Welmilla
The Stage is set to hold the MCC vs
International XI match to be in aid of the tsunami appeal on next
Tuesday (14th) at lords Cricket grounds.-the home of cricket..
The Match starts at 10.45am (3.45 pm
Sri Lankan time) New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming will take the
responsibilty to lead the MCC. Sri Lankan ace spinner Muttiah
Muralitharan and Indian spin wizard Anil Kumble will defenitely make
an impact on the wickets at Lords which is known as a batting
paradise. They will get the maximum support from former South
African captain Shaun Pollock and the "Rawalpindi Express-
Shoaib Akthtar to restrict the International XI. South African all
rounder Jacques Kallis will also be a useful contributor with the
ball and the bat.
In the batting department MCC will keep
their hopes on Chris Gayle, the opening batsman who scored a
triple-century in the Test match in Antigua between West Indies and
South Africa which ended on May 3. Gayle will be joined by his West
Indies team-mate, Ramnaresh Sarwan. They will face an International
XI skippered by their national team-mate, Brian Lara and including
their new captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Skipper Fleming along with
Sri Lankan bat Kumar Sangakkara and Sachin Tendulkar's replacement
V. V. S. Laxman will have the experience of chasing big totals for
MCC. Further Former Zimbabwe captain Andy Flower will also be useful
either opening the innings or in the middle order. The International
XI is also a star studded side and the West Indies ex-captain great
Brian Lara will lead the batting line up with India's Virender
Sehwag along with Sri Lanka opener Sanath Jayasuriya and South
African skipper Graeme Smith. Rahul Dravid is another great Indian
player to watch and the international XI will also get the services
of allrounder- black cap Chris Cairns. The International XI will
have Shane Warne as the only experienced spinner but Sri Lanka's
Chaminda Vaas Pakistan's Mohommad Sami and South African Makhaya
Ntini are useful contenders to restrict the opponents to a lower
Announcing the teams in his address to
the MCC AGM last month, MCC President Tom Graveney said: "I am
delighted that we have been able to name such strong teams for this
match; we are indebted to the players for agreeing to participate in
what will be a very special game."
wins Malaysian C'ships
Promising young Sri Lankan tennis
player Rukmal Cooray of Asian International School (A.I.S.) returned
from Malaysia winning both boys under 16 and 18 Malaysian national
junior tennis open Championships 2005 held in MPPJ sports complex in
Malaysia from June 1 to 6, 2005.
Rukmal Cooray is the first Sri Lankan
to win 2 national junior ranking tournaments outside Sri Lanka.
Eight countries participated in this tournament. Rukmal Cooray beat
first seed Zhia hwa Chong 6/2,6/1 in Malaysia in the boys under 16
finals and beat Prasad Selvarjoo in straight sets 6/1, 6/0 and
became the winner in the under 18 category too.
According to Rukmal playing in Malysia
has given a tremendous boost to his career and he has now returned
to Sri Lanka with great confidence. The way he had played in
Malaysia if the S.L.T.A. promotes him he is sure to do better within
the next two years to be the best in the region. His coach, Arul
Amalanathan, veteran Indian coach has given an undertaking that a
special programme will be planned for better training in the near
fine win, but not flawless
By. T.M.K. Samat
IT ISN'T only the avenging of the
ignominious defeat of 2002 that makes Sri Lanka's World Cup
qualifier triumph in Suphan Buri, Saturday last, a commendable
achievement. After the 0/72 annihilation in the previous encounter
in Bangkok, coach and officials this time round naturally were
unprepared to make any Muhammad Ali-style forecast.
At best, optimism accompanied
reservations. Their blending of hope with reality ran something on
these lines: "it's going to be hard with home-advantage theirs,
but if we play well we can win." You might think cautious
optimism, which the official pre-match view suggests, isn't a bad
thing. But this wasn't that sort of cautious optimism. It was more
an admission of the enormousness of the job ahead, and, one
suspects, a subtle play of words suggesting the final outcome ought
to be measured by the 2002 tape. In other words, if in defeat,
dignity replaces the disgrace of three years ago, then, opprobrium
would be undeserving.
Against that background, what happened
at the Suphan Buri Stadium last week ranks as a minor miracle - more
of which we'll talk about later. Acknowledging those responsible for
preparing this astonishing turn-around, though, merits first
priority. After all, any number of brilliant players counts for
little if you can't assemble them into a combative unit. And that
takes more than just enhancing fitness and skills. As important is
the mental toughening, without which, Saturday, Sri Lanka might've
capitulated in crucial pressure situations, as they often do.
They didn't this time. The reasons for
it lie in the fact that the selectors chose wisely and Coach George
Simpkin and his deputy, C P Abeygunawardena, beat the players into a
mean-machine. And what ever else there had to be done was completed
by conscientious manager, Sqd. Leader Sanjay Fernando. The players,
so, were single-mindedly focused on their 80-minute turn of
field-duty. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that the cohesive
combativeness displayed on the field was a reflection of the
efficient bonding of management. So, it makes sense to preserve this
management combination and allow it to work in the same air of
independence it did in preparing for last week's match.
But there are unknown pitfalls that can
derail the best laid plans. And the Sri Lanka squad hit one no
sooner than they had stepped out of the arrival terminal of the Don
Maung airport, 7.30 a.m. Friday: there was no Thai RFU official to
meet them. "It wasn't the most pleasant of welcomes, especially
when you've got off a flight that began about 3 a.m. (Bangkok time:
4 a.m.), though the journey had begun the previous night at 11 p.m.
when we boarded the bus to Katunayake," said Sqd. Leader
Fernando. "We were left kicking our heels for more than an hour
before the liaison officer finally appeared."
Suphan Buri, province of the match
venue, is not a whisk away from Bangkok, and with the morning city
traffic at a peak, it was another two and half hours before the
bedraggled, droopy- eyed and hungry Sri Lankans arrived at their
hotel at around 11 a.m. - only to be told to get back into the bus
and be driven to another hotel for breakfast.
That done, they returned to their hotel and jumped into bed
to sleep out the weariness from being nearly 12 hours on their feet.
They slept through the hotel's lunch time. But manager Fernando had
thoughtfully arranged for lunches to be put in boxes, which they
took along with them for their 4 p.m. practice and ate it after the
workout. It had been a frustrating first day in Thailand.
Obviously there was a lot cussing and
swearing, but manager Fernando saw the positive side of the
disappointment. "It was a long and annoying journey to Suphan
Buri, but as a place to spend the day before the match it was better
than Bangkok," said Fernando.
Some explanation of the place is
necessary. Even if the traffic is sparse, the drive to Suphan Buri
takes around two hours. It is over 100 km from Bangkok, but it might
well be a world away. A sleepy old place this, which has nothing of
Bangkok's "attractions", and explains why the place has
just four hotels and no taxi service. "The nice thing about
Suphan Buri is that it has no distractions - at least not what the
eye can see. So, the focus on the match was never lost - if anything
it was even more."
How much an influence Suphan Buri's
remoteness from Bangkok's shopping malls and beckoning neon had on
our performance, of course, is something that can't be established.
But this much is certain: the commitment and character demonstrated
by the Sri Lankans have not been seen in a long while.
Their new-found determination was
displayed best thrice: 1/ when the Thais closed a 15-point lead to
single digit in the first half, 2/ when the Thais took the lead,
24/23, early in the second half and 3/ when the Thais, trailing
24/38, equalized 38/38, at the top of injury time. It has to be said
that 1 and 3 were achieved on the back of two stunning tries, one
minute of each other on both occasions - the sort of blows that
previously left Sri Lanka in bewilderment they couldn't come out of
and tumbled over the cliff to defeats.
This time round, however, the Sri
Lankans were quick to beat back the gathering resurgence of their
opponents and re-established the superiority that became obvious
from the moment they had taken an 18/3 lead in the opening 30
minutes. The memory of the match no doubt came in injury time, with
the scores tied, 38-all. The Thais had scored two rapid goals to
strike parity, and their endorphin level was at a high. Sri Lanka
might have wondered if their chance had come and gone; the smell of
blood was strong in Thais' nostrils.
But then Sri Lanka wrote a storybook
finish with two tries in the final two minutes to win by a 10-point
margin - and margin that could've doubled were all of
our seven tries converted; only two were. A 20-point margin
would've been a truer reflection of Sri Lanka's superiority on the
day. The forwards were quite magnificent, dominating possession. The
backs scored all of the team's seven tries. But the overall
performance was some way short of perfection. When a team takes the
lion's share of possession, as Sri Lanka did, and yet allow the
opponents five tries, then, there's has been some squander.
At least three of Thais tries were
gifted, the most glaring was the ill-timed pass that presented the
home team an intercepted try. Another came off a Sri Lankan kick-off
that went full out - a kick that was taken by Mallikarachchi instead
of T. A. Silva, the regular kicker. A bad decision, that. Off the
midfield scrum that followed the misguided kick-off, the Thais
scored to make it 24/38. A minute later, it was 38/38:
the origin of the equalizer was in a lapse by flanker
Ganapathy, who, down on his haunches, was yet sulking over his
mistake when the Thais' scored the equalizer.
It was anybody's match with three
minutes remaining. It was at that point Sri Lanka displayed
character to run in two tries in rapid succession and so belie the
fact that they hadn't been far from defeat. You can't be too hard on
them. Where they fell off the edge previously, this time round, they
dug their feet in and scrambled back to the summit. It is tempting
to think that our standing in Asian rugby is heading upwards. The
encounter against Singapore, June 25 at Longden Place, would provide
confirmation or otherwise.
unchanging world of old summa
NORMAN Gunewardena, of Royal and CR and
FC, was an outstanding flanker in the early 1950s. His son, Ajith,
also flanker, was in the Royal team of 1975. And his grandson, Revan,
is being spoken of as a strong wing threequarter prospect for Royal
Through this sweep of over a
half-century, a common link, other than of belonging to one
family-tree, is difficult to find. Away from the family connection,
the only commonality, perhaps, is the shape of the ball, though,
rugby itself has become quite another game, thanks to the many new
laws adopted over the past 50 years.
So any one, for a lark, hazarding a
guess that the coach of the grandfather, son and grandson might be
same is likely to... well, you'll be pardoned if you held that smart
aleck by his neck and dispatched him, post-haste, to the nearest
mental hospital. But before you ring for the ambulance, it would be
advisable to check out the past and present movements of a busybody
called Summa Navaratanam. He turned 80 only the other day and it's
plausible that he might have coached Norman and son. But coach to
grandson, Revan, too - well, that is one for the pigtailed Chinese.
But there's no harm in checking out
with the man himself. The place you're most likely to find him is
the Royal Stadium in the old race course, which is where the most
fanatical of old Royalists - and Summa is one- would gather of any
evening to watch the school practice. These days you'll find him
slouched in a wheelchair, though, not for reasons you think. "I
was watching a tackling session and was hit by both the tackler and
tackled, and ended with a few hairline fractures in the right knee
bone," he says. ''No big injury; I'll be out of this bloody
plaster in a week or two" - spoken with all the panache of a
John Wayne, the rugged hero in the cowboy 'n crooks films of his
As for the question on grandson Revan,
be prepared to be the pigtailed Chinese yourself: yes the man
coached the Gunewardenas, grandfather to grandson.
"In those days it wasn't unusual
for a captain to be coach as well. So when I captained CR in 1955 I
decided to do the job of coach as well and that's how I became coach
to Norman; he was five years my junior at school," recalled
Navaratnam. "Ajith came along while I was in the thick of
coaching in 1975 - and now Revan." C P.P. Abeygunawardena, of course, is currently the appointed
coach; Navaratnam, the school's rugby coordinator, an
all-encompassing involvement that covers supervision of Under 14 to
first XV teams.
If you think the involvement is
extraordinary for an 80-year-old, then, it's because you're ignorant
of his daily schedule. "My day now isn't any different to what
it was," says he. "Except that I now go to bed by 10 pm
-my body clock is set to that time."
His day starts, as always, at 6 a.m.,
though. Where once upon a time he would rush off for an hour of
jogging, these days he walks the dog around Victoria Park, from his
Kynsey Road home, for an hour. After a breakfast of papayas and
cereals, you'd think old bones would stretch on the long hansi
putuwa and settle for a good long read of the morning's newspapers.
Suggest that to Navaratnam and he would blurt, "Hansi putuwa
and newspapers? - like bloody hell. I've got to rush off to office
to keep a business with a 150 million-rupee annual turnover going.
Life's schedule hasn't changed." So, too, the nature of his
As then, he still trades in
commodities, acting in-between to local producers and buyers
anything it's more taxing on the mind now, with globalization. It's
a constant watch on the international trends and local produce,
price fluctuations and stock availability in the local market,"
says the trader from Ceylon and Foreign Trade Co.
So, at work's end it's time to sit
under a bag of ice? Not by a long shot - a quick change into shorts,
jersey and decks, and he's with the boys at practice, 5 pm to 6.30
pm. His practical lessons, of course, might lack the robustness of
old, but his lecturing hasn't lowered a quaver on the emotional
register. The passion and repetitiveness of his lessons some times
can quite unnerve his charges. C P Abeygunawardena has a delicious
anecdote to illustrate that characteristic of the man.
It goes back to the time he was coach
of the Sri Lanka team at the 1981 Hong Kong Sevens. At the final
practice held on the grounds of plush Hong Kong FC, winger Wimal
Eparachchi just couldn't do right one of the coach's instructions.
Exasperated, Navaratam barked, "Use your bloody brain" -
not once, but enough times to rankle Eparachchi. Practice done, the
squad gathered to leave, and the Hong Kong liaison officer whistled
across the field for the bus - the fingers-under-tongue whistle.
Navaratnam, wishing to lift the mood of his weary charges, promptly
imitated the liaison officer's whistle. The emanating sound, though,
wasn't half as loud as that of a deflating balloon - and Eparachchi
saw the chance to get his back on the coach: "Use your brain,
sir." Not one to miss a good laugh, Navaratnam laughed and
laughed and laughed.
That little story, perhaps, tells a lot
of the man: his unwillingness to let go of the boy in him. Which is
why, even at 80, you can't keep him away from the rough and tumble
that is boyhood's world, even if it costs a few broken bones.
A lot has been written recently of his
exploits in athletics - Asia's fastest man in 1953 - and rugby -
member of the historic 1941 Royal team that beat Trinity for the
first time and president of the SLRFU in 1974. All that, though, is
only readings of cold, emotionless history.
To appreciate better the man, walk down
to the Royal Stadium on an evening, and you'll get to know
first-hand Eparachchi's state of mind on that distant day in 1981in
Hong Kong; he prowls the touchline shouting instructions with many a
"bloody' in between. Per chance, if one of his charges directs
a timely repartee, you can be certain his laughter will be the
heartiest, the loudest. Same old Summa!
and Devin win Lipton Cup
Former Asian Games silver medallist W.
P. K. Janaka crewed for by W. M.G. Marambe, both of the Navy Sailing
Club, were the winners of the Lipton Cup sailing regatta held at
Bolgoda last Sunday. The duo, sailing their Enterprise Class boat,
beat 22 other boats to take first place despite three-minute
negative handicap. It was a good day for the Enterprise and for the
Navy, who also secured second place in a boat sailed by Kamalsiri
Gunetilleke with Indika Pushpakumara as crew. Third place was
secured by the husband-and-wife duo, Anil and Michele Gunawardana.
Sponsored by Lipton teas, the event is the highlight of the national
sailing calendar, having been sailed for more than 40 years.
Excellent 10-12 knott winds on the day helped make it an exciting
event, sailing a course set by Mohan Balasuriya.
The junior Optimist class event was won
by Devin Goonewardena (Stafford International), with Sasha Guneratne
(St'Thomas Prep) taking first runner-up and Ishan Abeysekara (St'Thomas
Prep) coming in as second runner-up. A total of 14 boats entered the
Speaking on the occasion, Managing
Director Unilever Teas Mr Avi De Silva reiterated the brand's
commitment to the support of sailing in Sri Lanka, especially in the
youth class. The company's founder, Sir Thomas Lipton, was himself a
famous sailor who attained international recognition for his
repeated (and unfortunately unsuccessful) attempts to win the
Americas Cup for England in the 1930s.