Botham’s long walk for kids
COLOMBO: Cricket legend Ian Botham was cheered on by hundreds of Sri Lankans yesterday as he began a 160km trek from the island’s war-ravaged north to its tsunami-battered southern coast.
The Englishman promised to combat the sapping heat with plenty of night- time “rehydration” before he set off from Kilinochchi, a key battleground in Sri Lanka’s 37-year ethnic war.
Botham has done 14 charity treks but this is his first such adventure outside Britain and is intended to raise money for disadvantaged children, both in Sri Lanka and elsewhere.
Kushil Gunasekera, one of the organisers, said about 2 000 fans had cheered Botham off from the starting line in Kilinochchi.
“He tossed (the coin) at a schoolboy cricket match in Kilinochchi in the morning and started his first 20km leg of the walk,” Gunasekera said, while taking part in the walk.
Botham, 57, is planning to walk 20km every day, doing a total of 160km, before he reaches the coastal village of Seenigama on November 8.
On some days, he will be driven between towns and he acknowledged he had revised plans for a longer journey due in part to sweltering conditions.
“It is considerably shorter than most walks,” Botham said. But we have to factor something else. It is the heat and humidity. There will be a lot of rehydrating to be done in the evenings.”
The all- rounder, who has raised more than $20 million for charity with his walks since 1985, has been a frequent visitor to Sri Lanka as a player, TV commentator and goodwill ambassador.
Proceeds from the Sri Lanka walk will go to the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which operates in 34 countries. – Sapa-AFP