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Wimalasena stresses the need for proper trials

By Susil Premalal

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The winner of the recently held Junior Marathon

Veteran marathoner Wimalasena Perera says that the athletic administrators over the years should take the responsibility for the current status quo of marathon in Sri Lanka. Even though Sri Lanka has produced international level marathoners, Sri Lanka has failed to win medals beyond the South Asian region.

“If you look at our history, we have produced marathoners consistently who are cable of competing at world meets including Olympics and World Championships. But sadly, we have not won a single medal beyond the South Asian level. It’s not that we have talented marathon runners in this country but lack of planning,” said Perera who competed at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico.

“I think all past and present administrators should take the responsibility for this. Marathon is a discipline we can perform well internationally and all we need is to invest in them,” he said.

Perera, 72 who has taken part in Asian Games (1966 – Bangkok) and Olympic Games (1968 – Mexico) also calls for a local selection trial for marathoners before sending them for international events like the Olympics and World Championships.

“The best example is Anuradha Indrajit Cooray. He qualified for the recent World Championships during the 2016 South Asian Games but look at his performance at the World Championships. He gave up the race after the first 10KM, same with the other girl – Hiruni Wijeyaratne. She stopped after the half way mark. I think we must conduct a trial at least four months before the event to see whether they are up to the same standard to compete,” Perera said.

Wimalasena Perera

Perera who broke the national record with a time of 2 hours, 27 minutes and 17 seconds at the CT&FC marathon in 1966, has a personal best time of 2 hours 22 minutes and 15 secs recorded in 1967. Perera was placed 51st out of 81 contestants with a time of 2 hours 59 meters and 05 secs at the Mexico Olympics.

A retired army officer Perera was recognised for his contribution to athletics during the 2016 Presidential Award Ceremony and later was included to the athletics selection committee.

“It’s sad to say but the truth is there’s no standard in our local competition except the LSR Colombo Marathon. We need to lift the standard of our marathon competitions including the national marathon in order to provide the best possible platform for our athletes to compete,” he said.

Perera also asked the Athletics Association of Sri Lanka to make use of former marathon runners like S.L.B. Rosa, V.K.L. Samarasinghe, Ajit Bandara and Norbert Perera to help the up and coming athletes.

“We like to contribute whatever we could do to help the sport, be it coaching or technical aspects in organizing these events. After Derwin Perera, who is not amongst the living now, there’s no national marathon coach. There is no national marathon pool. So how can were promote such an event, or win an international event?,” Perera questioned.

Posted on 2017-08-20 14:55:38
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