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Cherished sporting milestones of Air Force

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70 Years of Sri Lanka Air Force Sports

During the 70 years of existence, the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) has produced some outstanding sportsmen and women who have brought immense glory to the country. The notable feature of most of these great men and women is that they have rendered their service not only in the field of sports but also in their own profession in the SLAF. The following achievements of these sports personnel have been written in gold in the annals of the SLAF.

First National Record by an Airman

Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Nagalingam Balasubramanium became the first airman to create a National Record, when he cleared a distance of 48 and 1/2 feet (14.64) at the triple jump event at the Quadrangle Athletics Meet on 28 November 1959.

Asian Games Representation

LAC Lakshman de Alwis became the first sportsman from Air Force to represent the country at the Asian Games, when he represented Ceylon at the 4th Asian Games held in Jakarta in 1962 in 200m and 400m events. De Alwis was the Ceylonese champion in 200m and 400m in early 1960s and established the national record for 400m (49.8) on 19 July 1964.

“Jets” relay team equals the National Record in 4 x 200m relay

Air Force relay team popularly known as the Jets Team equaled the National Record in 4 x 200m relay event on 7 September 1963 with a timing of 1:30.2 seconds. Earlier the Ace Athletic Club had established the national record. LAC Lakshman De Alwis, LAC RAC Hubert, LACG George and LAC Cristy Fernando represented the relay team.

LAC Maurice Coomerawel completes a hat-trick of wins at the prestigious Tour de Lanka Cycle Race

Coomarawel who represented the country at the Rome Olympics in 1960 had the distinction of winning the prestigious Tour de Lanka on four occasions. He initially won the race in 1960. Then he went on to complete a hat-trick of victories, by winning the Tour de Lanka in 1965, 1966 and 1967.

LAC GAS Gunasinghe represents the country in Boxing at the Commonwealth Games in Jamaica in 1966

Champion boxer LAC GAS Gunasinghe became the only Ceylonese Boxer to participate at the 8th Commonwealth Games in Jamaica in 1966. He represented the country at the International contest against India and Pakistan in 1963 and won a silver medal in the meet against Pakistan. He won a silver medal at Singapore Sports Festival held in August 1965 as well.

SLAF Soccer Team win the prestigious FA Cup in 1975 and 1986

The SLAF Soccer team was a leading soccer team in the country in 1970s and 1980s and won many major championships on offer. They won the FA Cup in 1975 and 1986 whilst producing champion players in the caliber of Mahinda Aluwihare, Sumith Walpola, Mahinda Palitha and Sampath Perera. In 1975, SLAF won the FA Cup under LAC Edmand Silva and Corporal SC Kapukotuwa led the team to victory in 1986.

Sergeant Wijaya Nimal Perera wins a bronze at the 8th Asian Games

Sergeant Wijaya Nimal Perera was an outstanding boxer produced by the SLAF. He won a bronze medal in Fly Weight Category at the 8th Asian Games in Thailand in 1978. He is the first SLAF athlete to have won a medal at the Asian Games. In 1974, Perera was selected as the Best Boxer at National Boxing Championship, Defence Service Boxing Meet, Clifford Cup, Layton Cup and Albert Perera Memorial Cup.

Squadron Leader Susil Fernando became the first Test Cricketer to be produced by the SLAF

SqnLdr Susil Fernando became the first Test cricketer to be produced by the SLAF, when he made his Test debut on 4 March 1983 against New Zealand as the 17th Test player of the country. He represented the country in five Tests. SqnLdr Fernando made his ODI debut in 1983 and played in seven ODIs from 1983 to 1984. The highlight of his career was the representation of the country at the Cricket World Cup in 1983 held in England.

SLAF Rugby Team wins the prestigious Clifford Cup in 1986

The finest moment of SLAF Rugby was the winning of Clifford Cup in 1986 under Corporal Lakshman Caldera beating a star-studded Police SC 10 -8. In the Quarter Finals, SLAF beat Navy SC 44 -10 and beat CH & FC 8-4 in the semifinal. A try in the extra time by Flying Officer Harsha Fernando helped Air Force SC beat CH & FC after the scores stood at 4-all at full time. Air Force SC confronted the mighty Policemen in the final on 16 August 1986 and scored a sensational 10-8 win to clinch club rugby’s richest prize – the Clifford Cup. Second row forward 5193 Corporal Lofty Perera (jnr) scored the solitary try for the Airmen, while 4450 Corporal Tony Wimalasuriya fired across two penalties.

Group Captain TB Marmbe represents Sri Lanka at three Rugby Asiads and captains the national Team at a match in Rugby Asiad in 1988

Group Captain Tikiri Marambe was one of the best Rugby players to represent SLAF. A Trinity Lion, he represented the national rugby team from 1982 to 1988 and captained the team against Korea at the Rugby Asiad in 1988. GpCapt Marambe, who represented Sri Lanka at three Rugby Asiad’s during the period is considered as one of the best scrum halfs produced by the country.

Group Captain Nalin de Silva excels for National 7s Rugby Team that wins the “Bowl” Trophy at the Hong Kong 7s in 1984

Known as the Iron man in Rugby circles, GpCapt de Silva represented the National Rugby team from 1982 to 1987 and was the Vice-Captain at the 8th Asian Rugby Asiad held in Singapore in 1982. He represented the National team at the Rugby Asiad held in Japan in 1984 and toured to Wales in 1984. GpCapt de Silva was a key member of National Sevens Team that won the “Bowl” Trophy at the Hong Kong 7s in 1984.

Corporal Nimali Liyanarchchi wins silver in 800m at the CISM World Military Games in China in 2019

The former national champion in the 800m and 1500m, Nimali Liyanarchchi brought immense glory to Sri Lanka and SLAF through her record breaking performances. During the 7th edition of the World Military Games, that was held in Wuhan, China in October 2019, Cpl Nimali Liyanarchchi won the silver medal in women’s 800m thus became the first silver medalist produced by Sri Lanka Defence Services at the World Military Games.

Air Cdre Padman de Costa

Former Secretary Air Force Sports Council and Defence Services Sports Board



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Spoilsport

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Bombay Don hiding in Maldives

While Big Tom, 800 man and the Load of St. John’s Wood have all returned home from the neighboring country after the cash rich event abruptly ended recently, the Bombay Don has fled to Maldives instead. It is said that he is avoiding the seniors. The seniors are believed to be having an axe to grind with the Bombay Don for having used manipulative methods to keep them away from coloured clothing encounters. He cannot be hiding for too long and when he returns home all hell will break loose, seniors say.

It’s pay back time for toe-crusher

Fitness seems to be the buzz word these days and many are those who are licking their wounds unable to earn their living having failed to meet minimum standards. In that context, many are wondering the motive behind bringing the toe-crusher making startling exceptions. It is said that the
toe-crusher is the one who got Bombay Don his current job having recommended him to the richest family in the region. Now that Bombay Don is all powerful here, it is pay back time. A friend in need is a friend indeed, they say.

Why Crown Prince favours former boss?

The Crown Prince is doing all within his means to bring the former boss back to the hot seat. All logistics during international games have been given to the Crown Prince’s father-in-law by the former boss. Although many would consider it conflict of interests, the Crown Prince doesn’t think so. He has said that his father-in-law was in this business even before he had become the authority for all games. The Crown Prince has gone to the extent of backdating a gazette to save the former boss. Insiders say that having been responsible for his illustrious father’s political defeat in 2015, the Crown Prince is sealing the fate of his uncle too.

Sailors pulling out a concern

The nation had three brand new international venues after the sport’s showpiece event in 2011. With maintenance costing an arm and a leg, the authorities at that point reached an agreement to let the tri-forces look after the three stadiums. The sailors were in charge of the new ground in the hill capital and for ten years they had done a terrific job looking after it very well. However, now that the sailors had been moved out and maintenance given to a private entity, there are concerns that it will not receive the care that was once given. All in all, it was a good job by the sailors.

Kandy Mandela chases cops away

The man who was the ultimate authority on games ten years ago is politically ambitious. The name he has given himself is Kandy Mandela. (Nelson must be spinning in his grave). He had recently made a big noise claiming the famous 2011 final was fixed. But after Dubai issued a statement that they have no reason to doubt the result of the game, Kandy Mandela has been left with egg on his face. The skipper who is the Lord of St. John’s Wood now and knows his law is not taking it lying down. He wants action taken against Kandy Mandela and together with his colleagues has made a complaint to the newly established police unit that is investigating corruption in games. When cops had visited Kandy Mandela to record a statement, he had chased them away threatening them with transfer

Good job curator

The curator who was given such a hard time after the drawn first game is in good moods these days after the second game produced a result. The curator has been getting lot of criticism but he seems to have done a fair job in his role overall despite the surface receiving not so complementary rating by the game’s big bosses. Despite perceptions and appearances, the curator is said to be a good man.

Election by video conference

While many elections in games are postponed due to pandemic, those running the richest game want the election held on schedule. Efforts are underway to hold the election through video conference now. A sports body known for rigged elections and individuals voting against the mandate of the club, it remains to be seen how this year’s election will be conducted.

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Oneli wins Online Under 18 Chess Championship

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Oneli Vithanawasam of Lyceum International School, Wattala won the Online Under 18 Girls’ Youth Chess Championship as she scored six points to clinch the top award.

Vithanawasam played exceptionally well to beat Prasansa Premanath in the fifth round and drew with Esandi Newansa and Piyumi Uthpala in the last two rounds to finish the event with six points.

During the first four rounds she beat Hasandi Akuratiya, Miyuni Jayasinghe, Tenuli Dahamna Rathnayake and Nemindi Linaya Ramanayake. She was awarded the championship trophy and the gold medal for her outstanding feat.

Esandi Newansa of Dharmasoka College, Nemindi Linaya of Bandaranayake Central College, Veyangoda and Piyumi Uthpala of JMC International School, Kalutara were tied scoring 5.5 points. Newansa was awarded the silver as she was better in the tie breaker.

Esandi beat Sanuli Dulanya, D. T. Joachim, Chanindi Mewna, Desandhi Dhihansa and J. A. K. N. T. Indrajith and drew with Oneli Vithanawasam and lost only to Prasansa Premanath. Nemindi Linaya Ramanayake was better in the tie breaker against Piyumi Uthpala to win the bronze.

CFSL Online Under 18 Girls’ Open Youth Rapid Chess Championship 2021 conducted by the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka was held on May 8 and 9. A total of 36 players registered for the event which was conducted on seven rounds with the time control of 15 minutes and 10 seconds increment per each move played.

Final Standings of top 10 players were as follows.

Name Points

1. Oneli Vithanawasam (Lyceum International, Wattala) 6.0

2. Esandi Newansa (Dharmasoka College) 5.5

3. Nemindi Ramanayake (Bandaranayake Central, Veyangoda) 5.5

4. Piyumi Uthpala Amaratunga (JMC International, Kaluthara) 5.5

5. Premanath Prasansa (Girls High School, Kandy) 5.0

6. Desandhi Dhihansa Gamage (Sirmavo Bandaranayake BV) 5.0

7. Dulinma Hemalni Rathnayake (Viharamahadevi BMV) 5.0

8. Chanindi Mewna Attanayake (Devi Balika Vidyalaya) 4.0

9. DG Jayandi Bimansa (Bandaragama Central College) 4.0

10. J A K N T Indrajith (St. Joseph’s BMV, Kegalle) 4.0

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Sri Lanka cricket selection strategy and replacing the captain

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Taking out Dimuth Karunarathne from captaincy needs a closer look

In the best interest of Sri Lanka cricket and its progress I thought to pen a few words regarding the recent selection purely to give confidence to all concerned and hoping that it will be treated in the best interest of the game.

We all know that cricket in Sri Lanka is the only game that our country has gained world class status of which we are very proud of. Since it is a very competitive sport in the international arena, authorities in charge have a huge task to meet the demand locally and internationally. Starting from domestic to the national level it needs very careful and professional planning. There should be no short cuts taken and a very professional approach should be taken to produce results. “Winning is not everything but winning is the only thing.” This was what the famous All Blacks coach said to his team.

Whatever the sport, all players, coaches, selectors etc. should be very committed with command presence if they are to achieve success. To achieve identified goals, to get to that level each individual has to identify his ability, weaknesses, opponent’s strength and the determination to achieve the target.

Based on my above observation I am compelled to make my assessment on the recent selection of the captain of the national cricket team for the forthcoming Bangladesh tour.

Taking out Dimuth Karunarathne from captaincy needs a closer look. After a low West Indies Tour, under his captaincy Sri Lanka did well to win a Test series after a long time, where he faired extremely well as captain and specially as a solid batsman with an impressive record. One wonders why there is a need for a change in captaincy at a time like this when Dimuth was fairing extremely well. Further, when you remove a cricketer from the international calendar for a long period it is going to affect his form and his mindset. For a sportsman to perform well one of the most important aspects is confidence, continued exposure at competitive level. If you are out of it you have to start all over again and it needs sacrifice and mental preparation which I believe is not the challenge that he should face as he has come in as captain at a very difficult time and have performed extremely well, was in the process of achieving more. If you are going to groom a captain for the forthcoming World Cup this is not the time to remove and try others as he has shown good results and proved that he is a potential, affective captain material and also one wonders how come out of form Kusal Medis is accommodated as vice-captain as his recent track record won’t qualify him even to be a member of the national team.

Nimal Lewke
Former Chairman of National Sports Council

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