Sports minister Roshan Ranasinghe said Sri Lanka’s rich haul of five medals at the just-concluded Asian Games 2023 in China augurs well for the future of the country’s sports.
It is the best achievement by the country in 21 years since 2002 Asian Games in Busan.
In a statement, the minister asked the Sri Lankan contingent to the Hangzhou Games to take all the courage and work a little bit more to achieve your full potential and achieve medals for yourselves and Mother Lanka.
The statement in full:
“I was privileged to visit ‘Team Sri Lanka’ at the Athletes Village of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou and personally congratulate the medallists. I told the athletes that I bring along with me the heartfelt congratulations of all Sri Lankans around the world with His Excellency the President Ranil Wickramasinghe in acknowledgment of the honour and glory they brought to Mother Lanka.
The young prodigy, Tharushi Karunarathna, at just 18 years, became Sri Lanka’s youngest ever gold medallist at the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games. Her gold is the first ever won in 800m at the Asian Games. Similarly, Nadeesha Lekamge’s silver in Javelin Throw is the first ever medal won in a throwing event. Thus, these achievements of the two individual athletes are unique for Sri Lanka in the 72-year history of the Asian Games since 1951.
I met with Tharushi Karunarathna who won the individual gold and anchored the 4x400m relay team to secure the bronze along with her coach Mr. Susantha Fernando, who accompanied her to the Asian Games following her success at the Asian Athletics Championships. They shared their success story with me and appreciated the momentous and timely contributions made towards the journey of the athlete.
I also spoke to Nadeesha Lekamge, the winner of the silver medal in javelin throw who reached her Personal Best and established a new Sri Lanka National Record. I met both the men and women relay teams that comprised Aruna Darshana, Pabasara Niku, Rajitha Rajakaruna, Kalinga Kumarage, Dinuka Deshan and Lakshan Kodikara as well as Nadeesha Ramanayake, Sayuri Mendis, Jayeshi Uththara and Tharushi Karunarathna who secured bronze medals in 4x400m relays.
The Womens Cricket team that won the silver medal returned home earlier on completion of the competition and I had earlier congratulated the Team that comprised of Chamari Athapattu (Captain), Kalhari Kulasooriya, Harshitha Samarawickrama, Inoka Ranaweera, Oshadhi Udeshika, Nilakshi de Silva, Sugandika Dassanayake, Anushka Sanjeewani, Kaveesha Dilhari, Vishmi Gunaratne, Inoshi Fernando, Imesha Dulani, Hasini Perera, Kaushini Seneviratne, and Prabodhini Udeshika.
The ‘Team Sri Lanka’ They felt that the contributions made by the key stakeholders towards a ‘team effort’ would surely have contributed to achieve success at these games.
At the ‘Athletes Village,’ I personally congratulated the Medical Team headed by Professor Chathuranga Ranasinghe and comprised of Dr. C. A. Edirisinghe and Messrs R. P. H. P. Perera, U. G. S. K. Rukkatthandeniya, K. R. Wijesinghe and Mrs. H. N. Damayanthi in appreciation of the significant role they played at the games.
I also expressed my sincere appreciation to the Chef De Mission, Mr. Nishanthe Piyasena, Deputy Chef De Mission, Reshika Udugampola, the Headquarters Team, Officials, Managers, Coaches and supporting teams.
We spent considerable time with the ‘Team Sri Lanka’ at the ‘Athletes Village’ sharing the experience of the medallists as well as the coaches who have worked day and night to get this results and special appreciation should go to the Chairman of National Selection Committee, Gen. Shavendra Silva Secretary Arjun Fernando and the team, National Sports Council Chairman Arjuna Ranathunga and the committee, National Olympic Committee President Suresh Subramanium, Secretary General Maxwell de Silva and staff. Also, all the Sports Federations who contributed to this victory and the Director General of the Department of Sports Development and the Secretary and the team of the Ministry.
Most importantly, I would extend my heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to the parents who have shed sweat and blood through day and night to showcase the best of these athletes.
Finally, to all the team members who participated to bring glory to our Motherland I’d like to say, take all the courage and work a little bit more to achieve your full potential and achieve medals for yourselves and Mother Lanka.
We also attended the spectacle Closing Ceremony at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium in order to inspire ‘Team Sri Lanka’ after their splendid performance.
Sri Lanka’s rich haul of five medals at Hangzhou - one gold (800m Women), two silver (Javelin Throw Women and T20 Cricket Women) and two Bronze (4x400m Relays Men and Women) is the best achievement by the country in 21 years since Busan 2002 Asian Games and augurs well for the future of sports in Sri Lanka.”