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Dr. Cyril’s journey in Taekwondo has been fruitful

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All invitees and students who were felicitated by the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Association pose for a photograph with Dr. Cyril Antony

by A Special Sports Correspondent

Taekwondo in Sri Lanka has made a tough and challenging journey after it was introduced to the islanders by Deshamanya Master Dr. Cyril Antony to the island back on December 12th, 1976.

Those were the days when Bruce Lee’s films were sown in Asia and there was a great following for martial arts. The same environment prevailed here in Sri Lanka as well. After Dr. Antony picked up the rudiments of Taekwondo in Canada-where its founder General Choi Hong Hi was residing-he decided to make a quick return home and spread the sport island-wide.

However, Dr. Antony’s beginnings in martial arts had more to do with Kyokushin karate; a martial art where its players resorted to heavy blows and full contact fighting. According to Dr. Antony, Taekwondo is a much safer sport than karate due to its rhythmic and circular movements. “I respect karate because I cut my teeth in martial arts by learning it. But I realised that my future was with Taekwondo once I learned it in Canada,” said Antony in an interview with The Island.

There was a large following for the sport when he introduced it. But the numbers wanting to try it shot up largely because he had a successful stint as a referee at the World Championships in 1978. He was just 30 years old then when he achieved this feat.

At the inception, he started classes in Colombo, Kandy, Badulla, Wattala, Ratnapura, and Kuliyapitiya. “I used my personal contacts to promote the sport. There was much help for me because there was no politics involved with the sport back then,” he recalled. All these activities were made possible through his ‘club’-the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Association (SLTA).

As the sport gathered momentum here in Sri Lanka he registered the SLTA as the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Federation with the Ministry of Sports in 1984. Before that, exactly two years earlier, he registered Taekwondo as a national sport with the Ministry of Sports. All this was done with the good intention of promoting the sport and not with the aim of basking in personal glory.

However, things fell out of place when, in the year 1996, the then Minister of Sports took steps to suspend the registration of the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Federation. No reasons were given for this harsh action. The Sports Minister appointed an interim committee to oversee the administration of the federation and included his name among the list of administrators. But Dr. Antony soon fell out with the rest of the interim committee, so decided to go on his own.

Dr. Cyril Antony’s students perform during a Taekwondo demonstration

Reflecting on the suspension Dr. Antony said, “I think they wanted to benefit from the aid sent to us from South Korea for the purpose of promoting the sport here. I don’t think the Ministry of Sports had any legitimate right to suspend our registration because we didn’t receive any government funding or support.”

So between the years 1976 and 2021 the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Association, functioning in the capacity of a club promoted the sport in the island and served this nation in silence. To date there are as many as 200 committed students and eight qualified instructors there to promote the sport.

On December 12 last year the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Association held a ceremony to mark the occasion of the sport being present in Sri Lanka for a period of 45 years. It was held at the residence of Dr. Antony; the event was well attended by his students, teachers, his close associates, and the few representatives of the media.

Looking back at the hard journey made thus far Dr. Antony said, “I think we did better as an association that functioned without ties with the Ministry”. For the record his son Uditha and daughter Nayanajeevi are also full-time students training under him.

He added that Taekwondo being an Olympic sport was an added advantage to those practising it. “Our suspension took away the glory from the sport practised here,” he said.

Speaking further on the matter he said when he visited the archives of the Sports Ministry he had been told that there were no documents there to show that the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Federation was suspended. However, the federation is at present functioning under an elected body; in which Dr. Antony plays no role.

As things are Dr. Antony will continue to function through his Association which is serving the sport well. He has a great following in the sport and the name Dr. Cyril Antony is interwoven with Taekwondo in Sri Lanka. The sport owes a great deal to him because according to Dr. Antony he has spent the best years of his life promoting Taekwondo. He has grown old in the sport and he cannot even dream of divorcing himself from the sport he loves so much.



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Joes and HFC win Under-20 basketball titles

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Due to the pandemic, there wasn’t much sporting activities in schools for two years and basketball players showed lot of enthusiasm as their sport was in full swing since April holidays. Sri Lanka Schools Basketball Association despite many challenges successfully conducted the All Island Under-20 basketball tournament at Sugathadasa Stadium this week. Girls and boys in ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ Divisions competed over a month and there were some thrilling encounters.St. Joseph’s College, Darley Road and Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya cruised to victory in the ‘A’ Division final. While St. Joseph’s beat Royal College in the boys’ final, HFC overcame Mahamaya College, Kandy. Both teams cruised to victory and were hardly troubled throughout the campaign. Interestingly, both teams are coached by the same individuals with Roshan Randima as Head Coach and Shane Daniel as his deputy. Their teams over the last decade or so have come up with consistent performances and have always remained among the top three.

St. Joseph’s took an early 24-09 lead in the first quarter and although Royal contained them in the second quarter conceding just seven points, they themselves could not score big. Both teams scored 16 points each in the third quarter and Royal matched St. Joseph’s skills in the final quarter but the damage done in the first quarter proved to be costly as Joes won by 16 points with the final score being 68-52.Mahamaya scored 14 points compared to HFC’s 16 in the first quarter in the girls’ final but from thereon HFC were unstoppable winning by a comfortable 31 points. The final score was 70-39.

In the boys’ category, St. Joseph’s captain Shehan Fernando was adjudged the Most Valuable Player while Keith Costa also from St. Joseph’s was declared the Best Defensive Player. Royal’s Yuganan Baskaran was named Best Offensive Plyaer. In the girls’ segment, Onela Dunuwille and Minoli Direkze of HFC emerged as Most Valuable Player and Best Defensive Player respectively. Chithera Samarakoon of Mahamaya was the Best Offensive Player. The tournament was sponsored by Gaja Group. The Group’s CEO Gayath Jayasinghe, a former Sri Lanka basketball player was the Chief Guest.

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Sri Lanka Athletics to seek private sector support to send team for World Junior Championships

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Ambagamuwa Central hurdler Dhanuka Dharshana has bettered the World Junior Championship qualifying standard on several occasions.

Junior Nationals Athletics Championships rescheduled to June 7-10

by Reemus Fernando

Sri Lanka Athletics will seek support from the private sector to meet the massive costs involved in sending all athletes reaching qualifying standards for the World Junior Championships which will be held from August 1-6 in Cali, Colombia.The track and field governing body, which met this week to reschedule the Junior National Championship which was postponed due to the curfew imposed on May 9, also discussed ways of finding funds to send all athletes who reach qualifying standards for the World Junior Championships.

Sri Lanka Athletics has been sending all athletes reaching qualifying standards for the World Junior events in recent years. But the massive cost of airfare in the midst of the prevaling economic crisis has made it difficult for the sport’s governing body to bear the full cost involved in sending a strong team.So far nine athletes have reached qualifying standards for the biennial event and there is opportunity for other athletes to reach entry standards for the event when the postponed Junior National Athletics Championship is held from June 7 to 10 at the Sugathadasa Stadium.

“There is a massive cost involved in sending athletes for the Cali event. With the increased airfare it will cost around 1.5 million rupees per athlete. If we opt to send only the top two athletes and those who can find funds by their own it will not be fair by the others who reach qualifying standards. Because of that we will seek private sector support to send the full team,” a senior official of Sri Lanka Athletics told The Island on Friday.

Earlier there were plans to send a pruned down team but a couple of athletes have obtained private sponsorships for their travel compelling athletics officials to find sponsorships for others as well.Of the nine athletes who have reached qualifying standards so far, four are from three schools in Colombo.  At least one athlete from outstations and an athlete from a school in Colombo have received the support of sponsors to meet their expenses during the meet.

“We will request leading private sector firms to support junior athletes. We will also seek the support of friendly sports federations like Sri Lanka Cricket to support us at this difficult moment,” said the official.

Tharushi Karunaratne (800m, 400m), Jayeshi Uththara (400m) and Amesha Hettiarachchi (400m hurdles) in the girls’ category and Sithum Jayasundara (400m), Dhanuka Dharshana (400m hurdles), Kaveesha Bandara (110m hurdles), Pasindu Malshan (triple jump), Hirusha Hashen (long jump) and Rumesh Tharanga  (javelin throw) in the boys’ category are the athletes who have reached qualifying standards for the Cali event. Incidentally, Tharushi Karunaratne and Sithum Jayasundara will be taking part in their second consecutive World Junior Championships after having represented the country at the last edition in Nairobi. Sri Lanka did well to reach the final in the mix relay in Nairobi where they were ranked fifth with a time of 3:26.39 secs.

Junior National Championships from June 7 to 10

The Junior National Athletics Championship which was postponed after the morning session on May 9 will commence from where it stopped on June 7. According to athletics officials the events which could not be completed on May 9 will be held on June 7 and there will not be any changes to the schedule of the next three days.

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Shoriful ruled out of SL Tests with wrist injury

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Bangladesh’s injury woes continue as pace bowler Shoriful Islam has now been ruled out of the remainder of the ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka due to a wrist injury. Shoriful is the latest addition to the hosts’ injury list as they earlier lost Taskin Ahmed (shoulder) and Mehedy Hasan (finger).

“Shoriful Islam had a contusion of the right hand while batting. After the fourth day’s play an X-ray was carried out which has revealed a fracture on the base of the 5th metacarpal bone,” physio Bayjedul Islam said in a statement on Thursday.

“Such injuries tend to take around three weeks to heal followed by a couple of week’s rehab. He will not be available to play for four to five weeks.”

Shoriful was retired out on Day 4 after pacer Kasun Rajitha’s short delivery hit him on the gloves. Bangladesh were forced to end their innings at 465 following his injury.

Cricbuzz has learnt that Shoriful is unlikely to be available for the Test series against West Indies as well. Bangladesh will leave on June 6 to take part in the full fledged tour of West Indies, comprising two Tests, three ODIs and as many T20Is.

Meanwhile, the BCB has retained the same squad for the second Test against Sri Lanka that will begin on May 23. The board opted to not name a replacement for Shoriful since they have a big squad to pick from.

“We did not take any replacement for Shoriful as we have got a big squad in hand,” BCB chief selector Minhajul Abedin told Cricbuzz. ‘’We have to see fitness of Hasan Mahmud (who was in discussion as a possible replacement of Shoriful) and though we are not considering him in this series, if he is fit we might pick him for the Bangladesh ‘A’ team tour of West Indies.”

Squad:

Mominul Haque (C), Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim, Litton Kumar Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Nayeem Hasan, Taijul Islam, Syed Khaled Ahmed, Yasir Ali Chowdhury, Quazi Nurul Hasan Sohan, Musaddek Hossain, Ebadot Hossain Chowdhury, Shohidul Islam, Rezaur Rahman Raja.

( Cricbuzz)

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