Power-Lifter Jayatilleke Laments His Omission At Awards Ceremony
Despite winning three gold medals and reaching seventh in world ranking for the 120kg weight class in power-lifting, the Sri Lanka Power-lifting Association (SLPA) shunned the doors at its annual Awards Ceremony Night on Ransilu Jayathilake, according to the dejected athlete.
The awards presentation was held at the High Octane Gymnasium premises in Kohuwala, where Jayathilake is also a member.
Jayathilake claimed three gold medals at the Asian Power-lifting Championship held in Kerala, India alongside Athula Wijewickrama, who also won three golds.
Both created Asian records in their respective categories — the 120kg and Masters.
In addition Indika Paranagama (105kg) won a silver medal while Hiran Fernando, the second athlete in Masters, won three bronze medals and Danushka Kodikara (93kg) won a bronze.
Despite these achievements and the athletes passing on the message of their feats, the SLPA officials had failed to acknowledge the efforts of the five power-lifters.
Jayathilake explained that he, Paranagama and Kodikara qualified for the Indian meet after performing commendably at the National Power-lifting Championship, but in spite of winning 11 medals, including six golds, the SLPA officials even failed to turn up at the Airport to receive the triumphant team.
Adding more to the list of negligence, the SLPA officials had deliberately or carelessly foregone the names of Jayathilaka and Kodikara for their awards presentation.
Adding more insult to the series of comedies, the SLPA officials, even failed to invite the owner of the premises, Darin Weerasinghe, who is also the national power-lifting champion, was not invited for the event.
“The organisers have called Darin (Weerasinghe) on the morning of the day of the event and have invited him verbally. But they did not invite me or Danushka (Kodikara) at any time. I really don’t know about the reasons behind it, but later on called Danushka and told him to go for the event, which he had done. I could have gone without an invite, but how can I, as a responsible athlete who represents the country,” Jayathilake stated.
It is said that SLPA had not only included Jayathilake’s name in the uninvited list but many others other than Kodikara and Weerasinghe.
But many have taken the trouble to attend the event as it is the highest occasion of recognition for the athletes.
The series of blunders by the SLPA officials even resulted in Wijewickrama ending up paying US$ 100 to enter the name into the Asian competition as the local authorities have failed to include him in the list of participants.
Sri Lanka Army athlete S.K. Pradeep was also another power-lifter who had to face the harsh treatment of the SLPA officials, who had failed to provide necessary documentations to relevant parties.
Eventually, Pradeep missed out the opportunity of winning a gold in the 59kg weight category, in which his best lift was 597kgs.
The Asian Championship gold medalist had a lift of 570kgs, far below from Pradeep’s feat.
However Kapila Perera, the President of SLPA, rejected all claims by saying his association has done all the needful for the athletes to take part in the Asian Championship and also invited all athletes for the annual awards presentation.
“All were present at the event except for Ransilu. I suppose he could not take leave from his workplace. That must be the reason for him not to attend the event. Other than that we, as an association had done all possible for those who were to take part in the Asian Championship. We initially were of the view that the Sri Lanka Army team should represent Sri Lanka at this event. But we amended that by picking top athletes from the National Championship held recently. Accordingly the SLPA issued release letters to Sri Lanka Army to grant their athletes leave for the national assignment. What happened afterward are beyond our control,” Perera said.
But strangely many of those who represented Sri Lanka are employed in the private sector and Jayathilake, responding to the SLPA President’s claim, gagged that assumptions cannot be taken as confirmed.
“They (SLPA) have acted like an amateur lot. They failed to issue letters for us to take leave for the Asian Championship or to obtain visas. We had to do all those on our own and even the cheque issued by the Ministry of Sports, was released to me, after I signed to take it over. Still they claim that they did everything right,” said Jayathilake.