The Olympic Games 2012 in London

Just as it was 104 years ago in 1908

By Dyan Pathiravithana

The next Olympic Games, to be held in London are around the corner, and they are competing with Beijing, holders of the 2008 Games, which were considered the best so far for glory. That atmosphere at Beijing was terrific and the crowds massive and the latest gadgetry so far seen in an Olympics gave it all, and to add to that there were no mishaps.

No Usain Bolts then, no pomp and pageantry in Olympics compared to the present level, even with a Queen in attendance; that was 1908. But something bigger that has lasted over a century took place there. And it was done in recognition of that Queen’s audience.

After Pheidippides ran with the message of the 490 BC Olympic Games from the city of Marathon to Athens and fell dead completing his task. The marathon was the name used for the race in respect of that run. During the early periods after modern Olympics were introduced in 1896 and periods following they stuck to what had been the set standard regarding the choice of events. Thereafter, it was long distances that were in vogue for track and throwing (discuss and javelin) for field events. Shorter distances became popular much later during the 1930’s. Now, it has even allowed once blasphemously looked upon professionals to take part in games.
Until the 1908 games the marathon was run at an average of around twenty five mile run and run just like at present through the streets. But it did not necessarily finish on the ground like they do today. Where it all changed was in London in 1908. During the planning stages the authorities took a good look at the sights where the race would take place and the route it would take. Then the design of the new stadium had to be changed to get the runners to do the final lap within the stadium. That was in view of finishing in front of the Royal Box. Instead of changing the stadium they decided to change the route while keeping the distance of the race at twenty six miles which they found ended at the entrance and had to add an additional 385 yards for the finish to be by the Royal Box. This distance however became the standard after 1921.

When the games began and the marathon was run, Italian marathoner Dorando Pietri led from the beginning with John Hayes from United States following him with the rest of the field following him. The heat was terribly high at 80 degrees and the racing conditions were appalling Pietri was some distance from the rest and winning and a shocking thing took place. He was in condition to complete the race when coming so close to the finish line, he was in a state of near collapse and the other runners were closing up on him.

By then the officials allegedly took the wrong decision to straighten him up to complete the race and took him over the line. But not to be out done the second to cross the line John Hayes, the USA runner protested, about the way Pietri was helped by the officials and awarded the Gold while Pietri was disqualified but later awarded a gold cup by Queen Alexandra. Today the same city has been selected to hold the XXX Olympiad and it will have a Queen in attendance and the marathon will end near the Royal Box just like they did 104 years ago.


Janashakthi’s athletes triumph and establish new records
Janashakthi’s sponsored athletes have once again proved their mettle this year and emerged winners at the recent All Island Schools’ Sir John Tarbet Athletics Championships, the Junior National Athletics Championships and the Women’s Athletics Championships.
Seven new meet records were also established by Janashakthi’s pool of athletes - Ishara Dayananda clocking 14.96 secs in 100m hurdles, Nimesha Siriwardene with 1.74 m in high jump (John Tarbet Senior Athletic Championships), S. Thanuja with 3.00m in pole vault (reportedly the best performance by a schoolgirl) , Amali Wijesinghe with 14.5 secs in 100m hurdles and T. Anusha with 41.72 m in discuss throw at the Junior Nationals and Nayomika Jayatilleke a new 400 metre hurdles record at the women’s championships.

Eight of Janashakthi’s sponsored athletes came first in their respective events at the recent Junior National Athletics Championships where Pabasara Senanayake (St. Joseph’s Girls School, Kegalle) was declared the best U20 female athlete having emerged winner in her 100m and 200m events.
Ishara Dayananda (Ferguson Girls High School, Ratnapura) came 1st in the 100m hurdles event while Nayomika Gimhani Jayatilleke (Sumana Balika Vidyalaya, Ratnapura) emerged 1st in the 400m hurdles event.
At the same championships first places were clinched by S. Thanuja (Arunodaya College, Alaveddy, Jaffna) in U-20 pole vault, Amali Wijesinghe in U-23 100m hurdles, and T. Balakumar in U-20 pole vault. Amali Wijesinghe was also declared the best hurdler of the meet’.

Chamika Jayamini (Sumana Balika Vidyalaya, Ratnapura) 1st in the U-20 1500 metres event and 2nd in the 800 metres event while T. Anusha emerged 1st and 2nd in the U-23 discus throw and putt shot events.
Second places were secured by Medhani Wickramanayake (Sri Sanghamitta Balika National School Matale) and Hiruni Weerasekera (now employed by Janashakthi) in the U-16 100 metres and U-23 triple Jump events respectively.
A week prior to this, at the Sir John Tarbet Senior Athletic Championships Pabasara Senanayake claimed a double victory and was declared the best athlete of the meet having emerged winner in her U-20 100m and 200m events.

At the same championships Ishara Dayananda and Nayomika Jayathilleke emerged winners in the U-20 100m and 400m hurdles events respectively.
Nimesha Siriwardena (Galenbidunuwewa Central College) came 1st in the high jump event at the John Tarbet Senior Athletics Championships and has been chosen to represent Sri Lanka at the forthcoming Youth Commonwealth Games in September in England.
Meanwhile S. Thanuja came off with flying colours at the Senior National Championships clinching first place in both the U-20 high jump and pole vault events.

Janashakthi’s sponsored athletes triumphed once again at last week’s women’s championships when Nayomika Jayathilleke in addition to establishing a new meet record came 1st in the 400m hurdles, 1st in the 100m hurdles and 2nd in the 200m sprint in the under 20 category.
At the same event Pabasara Senanayake came 1st in the 100m and 200m and was adjudged the best under 20 athlete while T. Anusha finished second in the discuss throw open event. Amali Wijesinghe was placed 1st in the 100M hurdles open event while Chamika Jayamini was placed 1st in the 800m and 1500m while in the under 20 category Hiruni Weerasekara came 2nd in the triple jump open event.


The curtain falls on Nilufer’s rugby coaching career

Fifteen years in local rugby signifies commitment, durability and an undying zest for the game. All these elements find a place in the rugby personality that is Nilufer Ibrahim, a past Sri Lankan player and coach who decided the other day to end his rugby coaching career.
Having played for the national team from 1998 to 2004 in his pet positions scrum and fly half, Nilufer took to coaching, as whistle-blowing was not his forte. Three schools Dharmaraja, Kingswood and Trinity have benefited from his expertise.
In 2007, he fashioned Dharmaraja’s march to the B division title. Switching over to the Randles Hill School, he turned them into league champions in 2008, and runners-up in 2010. In between, Kingswood annexed the schools sevens title in 2009 under his guidance. At Trinity this year, the team finished third but had many moments of remembrance.
Nilufer, who represented two clubs, Kandy SC and Navy SC, was the Kandy SC sevens coach in 2007-08. Traversing memory lane, Nilufer recalls the 1998 CR & FC game at Longdon Place which turned out to be a thriller all the way. Kandy SC led by Asoka Jayasena came off second best to the CR team captained by Viraj Prasanna. The final score was 33-32 but Nilufer had the satisfaction of contributing 15 points via a try, 2 penalties and 2 conversions.
He remembers a game where CH led Kandy 18-5 at the break but Kandy had a superb second half and beat them 33-21, despite the presence of two Fijians.
Playing for the Navy team in 2009, they were able to pull off a 12-11 win over Kandy at Welisara and Kandy SC bit the dust after five years.
Pressed to name two outstanding, players in the Kandy teams he played in, Nilufer singles our Indrajith Bandaranaike and Fazil Marija. Bandaranaike got on with everyone, showed great commitment, behaved in an exemplary manner and was a source of encouragement to younger players. Marija is a simple man, not at all big-headed” and his output on the field is tremendous.
Nilufer’s Sri Lankan debut was against the Northern Territories of Australia, a match, we lost by about twenty points. He was picked the player of the tournament in the quadrangular between Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand (2002).
Nilufer took part in three Hong Kong sevens, a tournament which he calls the “Olympics of rugby”. Sri Lanka was able to beat only Morocco in those three tournaments, which were won by New Zealand and Fiji. At the tournament, he was able to meet the Australian great David Campese (who coached Singapore) and Umanga, the captain of New Zealand.


CEAT supports Rotherham Circuit Meet for second year

Top tyre manufacturer CEAT has come forward for the second consecutive year to co-sponsor the Rotherham Circuit Meet, scheduled to be held at the Sri Lanka Air Force Unit in Katukurunda on August 7.
Ravi Dadlani, Vice President Sales and Marketing of CEAT Sri Lanka presented the sponsorship cheque formalising CEAT’s support for the event to Air Marshal Harsha Abeywickrama at the Air Force Headquarters recently.
Sri Lanka’s only motor racing event conducted entirely on tarmac, the Rotherham Circuit Meet is organised by the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) in association with Sri Lanka Association of Racing Drivers and Riders (SLADAR) for the fifth consecutive year.
“CEAT Sri Lanka is a major sponsor of motor racing in this country,” Ravi Dadlani said. “This sponsorship is an extension of our commitment to support events that provide opportunities for local drivers and riders to hone their skills.”
CEAT is the title sponsor of the CEAT-SLARDAR championship trophy and the CEAT-SLARDAR Championship Awards Night that recognises the outstanding performances of the country’s top racing drivers and riders. CEAT also supports a host of other racing events in the country including the Fox Hill Supercross of which it is a special sponsor.


KIK Cola sponsors Super 16 Junior Rugby
KIK Cola announced that it is the title sponsor of this year’s Super 16 Junior Rugby tournament currently underway at the Royal College Sports Complex in Colombo. KIK have signed a three year deal with the organising committee, made up of representatives from the schools taking part, to be title sponsor of this tournament to promote rugby to the young.
This year’s tournament will comprise of nine schools vying for honours in two categories, Under 10 and Under 12. Schools taking part in this year are DS Senanayake College, Isipathana College, Royal College, St. Joseph’s College, St. Peter’s College, S. Thomas’ College Mt. Lavinia, St. Thomas’ Prep School, Wesley College and Zahira College.
Speaking about the sponsorship Chandima Perera – Head of Beverages, CCS and Vice President of John Keells Holdings said, “Rugby is becoming more and more popular in Sri Lanka today and even parents are getting actively involved in promoting the sport to their children. KIK Cola, as a dynamic Sri Lankan brand is proud to be the title sponsor of this tournament as rugby is a sport that reflects the brand’s persona.”
The tournament is being played in the two age categories in four rounds. The winners of each round will play each other to determine the overall winner of the KIK Cola Cup. The first and second rounds have already been played on June 26 and July 17 while the third and fourth rounds will be worked off on September 10 and October 2.