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A historic day for Ceylon



Duncan White, Lakshman Kadirgamar, Sharm Mustafa and Oscar Wijesinghe are seen in this picture which appeared in The Ceylon Daily News decades ago. Duncan White, Lakshman Kadirgamar, Oscar Wijesinghe and M.A.M. Sherrif represented the four communities when they brought four scrolls to the Independence Square to be handed over to the Prime Minister  D.S. Senanayake to be read for the public to hear.

After 400 years of Western domination Ceylon as Sri Lanka was known gained Independence on the 4th of February 1948. Heralding the occasion four athletes from the four corners of the Island brought four scrolls to the Independence square to be handed over to the Prime Minister  D.S. Senanayake to be read for the public to hear.

The four reputed athletes represented the four communities. They were Oscar Wijesinghe (Sinhalese), Lakshman Kadirgamar (Tamil), Mohamed A Sherrif (Muslim) and Duncan White (Burgher). Arriving at the Independence Square they handed over the scrolls to young females representing the four communities. Swarna Amarasuriya (Sinhalese), Srimani Ramachandran (Tamil), Ayesha Zally (Muslim) and Phyllis de Kretser (Burgher). In turn the four damsels handed over the scrolls to the Prime Minister who read them over the public address system.

It was indeed a happy coincidence that in the very same year Sri Lanka made her debut at the greatest sporting spectacle in the world, as an independent nation. A team comprising of three athletes and three boxers represented the country at the XIV Olympic Games in London 1948. No one ever dreamt that any of the participants would ever win a medal at the greatest sports festival after the Second World War. In the final of the 400m Hurdles event Duncan White of Sri Lanka though beaten by Roy Chocran, USA to second place lowered the existing Olympic record skimming over the hurdles in 51.8 secs. Thus getting the first medal to Independent Sri Lanka at an international sporting event. Commenting on the breath taking performance, the President of the Sri Lanka Olympic Association said that “White has done more for Sri Lanka in 51.8secs than all the propaganda over 100 years”. This athlete was none other than one of the athletes who brought the scroll to the Independence Square on 4th February 1948.

Duncan White proved that his performance at the London Olympics was not a flash in the pan at the British Empire Games in Auckland New Zealand in 1950 (now known as the Commonwealth Games). His noteworthy performance of 52.5secs not only won the gold medal and the Empire Games record, but was  just outside the world record for the event by one fifth of a second.

Subsequently the other three athletes too performed well for the country. Oscar Wijesinghe and M.A.M. Sherrif represented the country at the British Empire Games along with Duncan White. Oscar Wijesinghe a Public Schools athlete, representing the University of Ceylon won the 100m at the All India and Ceylon Inter University Championships. He established a Sri Lanka record in the 100m in 11.0 seconds in 1949 (The writer too equalled this record in 1955).

Lakshman Kadirgamar won the 110m Hurdles event at the Public Schools Meet and later won the Nationals in 1951. At the All India and Ceylon Inter University Athletic Meet too he won the above event.

He finally became the Foreign Ministers of Sri Lanka.

K.L.F. Wijedasa

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Akeesha, Movindi win U14 doubles title



SSC Open Ranking Tennis

Akeesha Silva and Movindi Fernando won the Under-14 girls doubles title while Anandians Ransath Peiris and Hasal Ahangama and Ave Maria Convent’s Vishmi Serasinghe registered crucial wins in the singles before the evening proceedings of the SSC Open Ranking Tennis tournament was affected by rain on Monday.

Akeesha Silva and Movindi Fernando beat Inuki Jayaweera and Melasha Randini to clinch the Under 14 girls’ doubles title. They overcame a set defeat to win the trophy scoring 1-4, 4-2, 11-9.

Ransath Peiris and Hasal Ahangama won their respective semi-finals to make it an all Ananda final in the Under-18 boys’ singles.

While Peiris fought back from a set defeat to beat Anujaya Abeywickrama, Ahangama triumphed over Mateesh Nettasinghe in straight sets.

In the Under-18 girls’ singles semis Serasinghe beat Ruvi Lewkebandara 6-3, 3-6, 10-5, while Nelani Jayasuriya and Anithra Dharmarathne were set all in their match when rain prevented further play.


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RTC conducts successful Mock Race ahead of April Season



Honourious, the Class I horse from the Fearless Stables and Stud Farm after finishing first in the third and final race with the jockey K. Sanjeewan, trainers S.V. Mathialagan and owner.

Royal Turf Club (RTC) made a rousing launch to their upcoming Horse Racing Festival 2021 with the Mock Race at the Racecourse in Nuwara Eliya, where the Fearless Stables and Stud Farm made an impressive warm-up leading up to the three-race event.

Fearless Stables and Stud Farm runners Honourius and Spirited Touch, both ridden by jockey K. Sanjeewan, were placed first in the second and third races, while Santos, ridden by S.D. Janaka and owned by the Edwards Stables, claim the top spot in the first race of the day.

The RTC Mock Race 2021 was held successfully last weekend at the Racecourse in Nuwara Eliya with three races involving 14 runners. The horses and jockeys had a deserving outing with full canter on the RTC Mock Race day, an event that was held after almost one year, following restrictions and guidelines issued by health and government authorities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Mock Race was entirely organised and conducted by RTC President Nihara Jayatilleke and RTC Treasurer Nisitha Rupasinghe following the guidance and instructions given by RTC officials – Chief Executive Officer – Wayne Wood from Australia, Chief Stipendiary Steward – Cyrus J. Madan from India – Jamil Soobratty from the Mauritius.

Five runners competed in the first race in which Santos, ridden by S.D. Janaka came in first ahead of Carlton (S. Dinesh), Olive (K. Sanjeewan), Glittering (P. Dinesh) and Silver Streak (L. Dayalan).

Spirited Touch, ridden by K. Sanjeewan, finished first among four runners in the second race of the day.

Star Scholar (S. Dinesh), Roseworld (P. Dinesh) and Arabian Gold (S.D. Janaka) followed behind.

Honourius, ridden by K. Sanjeewan, came in first after trailing as the tail ender with a brilliant run to give a fitting finale for the day. Others who followed behind are Torpedo (L. Dayalan), Night King (S. Dinesh), Krabi (P. Dinesh) and Goldi Girl (S.D. Janaka) in the final race that wrapped up a successful Mock Race.

RTC expects to conduct a race day during March and three race days during the April Holiday Season, which will include the legendary Governor’s Cup on the day following the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. The Mock Race was an opportunity given to stables and its horses and jockeys to have a full-canter practice run prior to the main races, as runners were held up for nearly a year without any competitions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Former pacie refuses apology

by Rex Clementine

Former fast bowling great Chaminda Vaas and Sri Lanka Cricket seem to have buried the hatchet and there is a possibility of the nation’s most successful fast bowler returning as a coach soon but SLC seems to be insisting on Vaas agreeing to issue a public apology before he could be roped in, again.

When Vaas withdrew as Sri Lanka’s Fast Bowling Coach hours before the tour of West Indies last month, SLC attacked the bowler in public. The board’s move was severely criticized by cricket fans and even leading businessman and former SLC Chairman Hemaka Amarasuriya wrote to this paper in support of Vaas.

The bone of contention was SLC refusing to heed to Vaas’ demand of paying him US$ 5000 for the tour. The board had later claimed that it had offered Rs. 750,000 but this had not been put in writing and leading SLC officials had even refused to give Vaas a meeting.

Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa had defended SLC’s action in Parliament but after full media exposure of behind the door happenings, Rajapaksa had softened his stance and had even met Vaas. It was following this meeting that SLC chief Shammi Silva had met Vaas, The Island learns. It was not clear whether the Sports Ministry had requested SLC to bring Vaas back on board.

“Vaas is contracted with SLC and there are protocols that he has to follow. Clearly he has breached these protocols and we would have been more than happy had he negotiated his terms after the tour,” an SLC official said when contacted by The Island.  The official, however, agreed that the controversial press release issued by the board was highly unnecessary. “We shouldn’t have washed dirty linen in public,” he added.

SLC is willing to accommodate  Vaas  but in the fresh media release they wanted to issue, the board had asked Vaas to agree to add words such as that he ‘repented and  regretted’ his actions. Vaas, one of five Sri Lankans to play over 100 Tests matches, was not available for comment. However, a  former Sri Lanka cricketer who played with him for more than ten years told The Island that Vaas would rather beg on the streets than ‘regret and repent’ his actions.

When Vaas pulled out of the tour of West Indies, some SLC officials had claimed that he was doing so in order to take part in the ongoing Masters series in India. However, that has been proven wrong as Vaas has remained in Colombo although several former Sri Lankan players travelled to India.

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