Locals to referee at Jnr. Boys World Squash C' ship
Munir Shah Referees' Director of the Asian Squash Federation, from Singapore, was here to conduct a Referees' clinic. It was held at the Hotel Taj Samudra. Shah was assigned by the Asian Federation to educate the local Refs. on the rules of officiating that came into effect from year 2001.

Forty senior squash players, present referees and coaches attended this seminar. It was conducted in the electronic (video) and print media including practicals. After its completion, a written test, too was held. The markers, too was invited to attend this clinic. According to Oliver Guruge, the rules will be translated to Sinhala for the markers to study and learn the latent rules.

All those who have successfully followed it after the written test were eligible for a certificate from the Asian Squash Federation. Shah was interviewed by The Sunday Times prior to his departure.

He said he was impressed by those who attended the clinic. They are intelligent and the questions they asked went on to prove they have the knowledge and on and off the courts.

Japan was the highest with 45 attending a clinic of this nature. But Sri Lanka is the second best. In any other country in Asia barring Japan - not more than 25 attended he said.

It augurs well for the future of the sport. Your Federation is giving the option to the Markers, too. Without doubt they are the backbone for the development of the sport at grassroots level. Most of the International players are harnessed from them. Even Lankans are not short of them.

No language barrier. Guruge and Lt. Col. Tissa Jayasinghe should be commended - both qualified refs., for translating the rules to Sinhala. Sha had a media discussion on Saturday at the Taj Samudra (Aug. 10 ), in association with Deegeyu Abeynayake a senior official. Muni, made his personal observations about the facilities afforded at the courts within and in the outstations (hotels) clubs and in the Services. He was satisfied with the facilities. The sport is fast developing with more participants especially among the schools. More competition means more playing opportunities for the youngsters.

"Pity I can't wait for the Open Ranking Squash Tournament 2002," he said. The event is co-sponsored by Connaissance Group and Hotel Lanka Oberoi and will beheld from Aug. 17 to 25.

"But I will be back here in December for Christmas after the Junior Boys World Championship to be staged in Chennai (Madras) from Dec. 3-14" adding, "Some of the qualified local referees will be invited to officiate at this championship. They are good and an exposure for them at the highest level," Shah said.- BW

Wimaladasa sweated it out through thick and thin
By Aubrey Kuruppu
Walking around the ample, spacious premises at the Sugathadasa stadium last weekend, I encountered a dark, balding person whose face looked positively familiar. On closer scrutiny, and after double checking I found to my astonishment that he was one of Sri Lanka's best-ever sprinters, a national champion many times over, and an athlete who had represented his country with great distinction on many a foreign track.

Having displayed his sprinting prowess in full measure at Alawwa Central, Wickremasinghe Wimaladasa (for that is the great man's name) duly found employment in the Sri Lanka Army. National champion in the 100 and 200 metres in 1964 and 1965, Wimaladasa was selected for the 1966 Asian Games in Bangkok. Injured prior to departure, he had a recurrence of the injury during his race and pulled out. He missed the whole of the 1967 season due to this injury.

Words of wisdom spoken to him by sporting Doctors H.S.R Gunawardena and Brigadier Thurairajah made Wimaladasa change to the 400 metres in 1968. His success was immediate, as he lowered the record (49.8) held by Lakshman de Alwis and Darrel Lieverz. The time he returned was 48.7. He improved on this marginally at the Singapore Nationals, striking out for the Gold medal in 48.6. However he recorded his best timing of 47.4 at the Thai Nationals not long after.

A Silver medal in the 400 metres at the 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok is a much cherished prize. He was also part of the quartette in the longer relay: the others being Derwin Perera, Bandula Jayasinghe, Sunil Jayaweera (and his brother-in-law) Prasad Perera. Wimaladasa returned a time of 46.7 secs. for his Silver, while Japan's Yesihari Tomonogo won the Gold in 46.6 secs.

Some much needed training was provided to him, courtesy a nine-month programme in Leipzig, Germany. While there, he ran in six international meets, winning the 400 metres event in five of them, with a time of 46.6 secs. Prior to the 1972 Munich Olympics, Wimaladasa underwent further training. This time it was for six months at Cologne. He had to run in all three sprint events and returned good times in the 100 (10.3, 10.4), the 200 (21.3, 21,4) and the 400 (46.41).

The high-point, the crowning moment of his career came in the 1974 Asian Games at Teheran where he beat Iran's Reza Entazari to win Gold in the 400 metres, clocking 46.21 secs, a new Asian Games record. Another Gold medal, another Asian Games record followed a day or two later when A. Premachandra, Kosala Sahabandu, Sunil Gunawardena and Wimaladasa scorched their way to the tape in 3 mts. 7.09 secs in the longer relay.

The Montreal Olympics beckoned in 1976 and, with the boycott by some countries, his chances of a medal were not all that remote. Long distance runner S.L.B. Rosa and Wimaladasa were duly selected but unfortunately they were not sent because of the critical foreign exchange situation. This was the last straw for Wimaladasa, the one that broke the camel's back. Disappointed, dejected and utterly frustrated, Wimaladasa threw in the towel. He retired at the peak of his powers with at least two good years still left in him.

Wimaladasa, a Lance Corporal in the Gemunu Watch Regiment, was promoted to the Rank of Class I Warrant Officer after his double Gold medal performance in 1974. Subsequently, he successfully completed his Army Exams and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. Wimaladasa has gone back to his roots, as it were, and spends his retirement in Alawwa. He remembers with gratitude the efforts of Brig. Halangoda and the late Colonel Willie Balthazar to convert him from an athlete of promise to an internationally successful one.

Sharing his thoughts on the current athletics scene, Wimaladasa who was the Deputy Manager of the Sri Lankan team at last week's Asian Athletic Championships, is sad about the indiscipline of some present-day athletes. "They should set an example to the young ones who will follow in thier footsteps," he says.

Wimaladasa is sceptical about the proliferation of coaches. "Everyone cannot be a Coach". He feels that factionalism among officials is holding back the development of the sport.

Like Cincinnatus of old (in Roman history), Wickremasinghe Wimaladasa has gone back to Alawwa to spend his retirement. He belonged to an age where athletes had to really sweat it out, endure through thick and thin, for little or no reward. A far cry from the lavish rewards heaped on today's champion athletes. Would that there be a few more Wimaladasas!!

Dusky Pradeep Basnayake the pride of Trinity College rugby
Champion among champions
By Bernie Wijesekera
Dusky Pradeep Basnayake, Sri Lanka's ace second-row forward and a basketball player of repute has represented the country in both sports. He is a pride of Trinity College, Kandy.

Trinity has made a name for rugby and has produced some of the best for the country. Pradeep, who is leading Kandy SC this season is one of them. He has led the White Shirts from the front this season to remain unbeaten and assured them of winning the league championship, after their hard fought win over the Army at Nittawela.

In a bruising battle KSC were tackled to a standstill by the rugged soldiers - the best match on this venue this season. In the end Sanjeewa Jayasinghe, the hard-running winger suffered a serious ankle injury when he crashed over the corner flag.

Towering Basnayake was interviewed by The Sunday Times on the eve of their final league game against the CR, at Longden Place (August 17).

Rugby was my first love. Got into the scrum as a junior (Under-15). Learnt the skills slowly, but surely. Never looked back since then. At the senior level the team was coached by Lohan Ratwatte and Janaka Kiridena and progressed through determination. My parents gave me all the support and encouragement. I played for the First XV from 1994-95. Won rugby colours in 1994, and the 'Lion in 1995, under Haris Omar. I was Omar's deputy. It was a golden year for Trinity rugby (1995). We won the Bradby against Royal. 1st-leg 6-3 and the second 22-6. Today both of us are playing together for Kandy SC and for Sri Lanka.

What has rugby taught you on and off the field. Play the game clean and hard for all to enjoy. Maintain the spirit of the game at all times. Everything is forgotten after the match. It is the game that matters.

Rugby is a beautiful sport. There is more rugby off the field than on the field. The outcome is secondary I agree. Concentrate on the game whilst on the field and keep your eyes on the ball. Playing at Nittawela there is plenty of noise coming from the fans. This include bouquets and brickbats. Take no notice. No crowd means no rugby. No point playing to empty stands, said Pradeep.

When did you start playing in the big league? In 1996, for Kandy SC as a second row forward. Never changed clubs, even if there were ups and downs on and off the field. Give of your best and pave the way for others to continue the good work, Basnayake said.

What's your happiest moment in your rugby career. Playing for Kandy under Haris Omar when the club won the treble - the Club 7s, the League and the Clifford Cup. Today I am leading the side. Haris is playing under me and giving me all support. With all my team mates rallying around. Kandy won the Club 7s, and retained the Caltex 'A' league. If I could lead them to win the Clifford Cup, it will be great. It could be achieved . If I do that, I will be repeating Omar's feat in 1999. If I fail, then I will be happy with what I have achieved. Trophies are secondary. The game has to be developed at national level.

Who is your International rugby idol? John IIIs, the Aussie second row forward. Who inspired you whilst playing for Kandy, in the big league, Priyantha Ekanayake. With his charming ways and understanding he further improved my tactical play as a second rower. Priyantha, himself was a 'look' forward.

What was your first overseas tour? The Junior Asiad in 1995 along with Haris Omar as schoolboys doing proud for Trinity. Played for Sri Lanka in 1998 and has been a regular member since then. Basketball, too helped me immensely to hit the top in rugby. Captained the school in 1994. Was a member of the Sri Lankan team as a schoolboy from 1992-'94.

What is your saddest moment in your life. In the wake of happiness sorrow followed. At the height of my career I lost my father. He was my guiding light. Now my mother is looking to my needs. She insists that a good name is better than riches. I will always strive to adhere to that.

At present I am employed at Sampath Bank. I am thankful to the hierarchy for giving me all the support to continue my sports career (rugby). In turn I give my loyalty to the institution at all times. After rugby what. If I have a professional background then I have something to fall back, Basnayake said.

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