All ready for the big splash at Diyawanna

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - COMMENT - By Naushad Amit

The Am­a­teur Row­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of Sri Lanka (ARASL) is ready for the launch of the 32nd Na­tional Row­ing Cham­pi­onship at the Diyawanna Row­ing Course in Ra­ja­giriya on the fourth week­end of Septem­ber.

This will be the first time the ARASL holds a fully fledged Na­tional Cham­pi­onship at its new lo­ca­tion, the Diyawanna Row­ing Cen­tre, which is blos­som­ing to be­come the prime venue of the wa­ter-sport.

Ac­cord­ing to Sithira Wick­ra­masek­era, a se­nior mem­ber of the Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee of the 32nd Na­tional Row­ing Cham­pi­onship, the ARASL is mak­ing all pos­si­ble ways to align with the in­ter­na­tional reg­u­la­tions of host­ing com­pe­ti­tion. Though this is not the first time the Row­ing Na­tion­als hit the Diyawanna wa­ters, this will be the very first time the ath­letes will com­pete on a 2000-me­tre course on four avail­able lanes.

"To reach this level, it was not an easy walk. Ob­sta­cles and un­cer­tainty pre­vailed from the very be­gin­ning but with the able lead­er­ship of ARASL Pres­i­dent, Ro­han Fer­nando, pos­si­bil­i­ties are now be­com­ing a re­al­ity of hold­ing com­pe­ti­tions with in­ter­na­tional stan­dards, Wick­ra­masek­era told the Sun­day Times.

The three-day event on Septem­ber 21, 22 and 23 has al­ready at­tracted over 350 ath­letes and with the of­fi­cials and sup­port­ing staffs of each team the Diyawanna Row­ing Cen­tre is ex­pected to hold over 1000 in­di­vid­u­als. To cater this de­mand the ARASL will put up makeshift tents on all three days as the per­ma­nent struc­tures are still un­der con­struc­tion stage. How­ever the venue al­ready has the ba­sic needs for ath­letes, their boats, of­fi­cials and other par­tic­i­pants.

"If we are at this level, now, it is mainly be­cause of in­di­vid­u­als and cer­tain well-wish­ers who will­ingly and vol­un­tar­ily came for­ward to make the Diyawanna Row­ing Cen­tre what it is to­day. Their per­sonal con­tri­bu­tions with­out seek­ing any re­turns de­picts that Row­ing is a much loved wa­ter-sport in the coun­try. But we need to look at other av­enues to ex­pand our reach and take this sport to­wards the mass. If I may sum it up, Row­ing is not any­more an elite sport, it has reached schools and in­sti­tu­tions once we thought are un­fit and they are show­ing greater po­ten­tial to make this an in­ter­na­tion­ally medal win­ning sport," Wick­ra­masek­era added.

Row­ing, as a well-renowned and fol­lowed sport in Sri Lanka, has been in ex­is­tence for over 150 years. But its sus­tain­abil­ity to-date, has re­mained and is in line mainly due to in­di­vid­u­als with higher en­thu­si­asm or ob­ses­sion for the sport. Fer­nando and Wick­ra­masek­era just two such cogs in the ma­chine.

"It's an hon­our and pride to work along with en­er­getic in­di­vid­u­als who are will­ing to walk that ex­tra mile, for the mere love of the sport. There are such en­thu­si­as­tic mem­bers in the Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee of ARASL and the Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee of the 32nd Na­tional Cham­pi­onship. Row­ing is blessed to have such kind­hearted in­di­vid­u­als," Wick­ra­masek­era, with pro­found grat­i­tude, re­vealed.

From next Thurs­day, for three days, over 350 ath­letes will vie for hon­ours at the 32nd Na­tional Row­ing Cham­pi­onships on the wa­ters of Diyawanna Oya, en­dorsed as one of the safest wa­ter­ways in the out­skirts of Colombo by rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties.

The rowers will com­pete in over 72 events on three days on the pur­posely built fa­cil­ity sup­ported by the Min­istry of Sports, to prop­a­gate Row­ing. The start­ing point of races will be from Diy­atha Uyana, to­wards Ra­ja­giriya, and the end of the 2-kilo­me­tre straight course is the Diyawanna Row­ing Cen­tre for all races. The en­tire event has been prop­erly struc­tured to hold with max­i­mum safety and se­cu­rity to all par­tic­i­pants with the help of Lo­cal and Na­tional au­thor­i­ties and the three armed forces, who will mon­i­tor the en­tire course all the time.

Cat­e­gories com­prise in both Men’s and Women’s Open, Over-18 and Un­der-18 events and will in­clude Sin­gles, Pairs, Dou­ble Sculls, Cox­less and Coxed Fours. The school­boy sculler and school­girl sculler events will also be one of the main com­po­nents of the event this year, where an ex­hi­bi­tion Eights race also has been planned. Win­ners of the Open cat­e­gory will be crowned the Na­tional cham­pi­ons, where Sri Lanka Army are the ti­tle hold­ers. They will be de­fend­ing their ti­tles in the Men’s Open and the Women’s Open cat­e­gories as well.

In to­tal ath­letes from 17 in­sti­tu­tions will com­pete in the events rep­re­sented by the armed forces, lead­ing uni­ver­si­ties, pub­lic, pri­vate and in­ter­na­tional schools. In­ter­est­ingly this pop­u­lar an­nual event has failed to at­tract the eyes of a po­ten­tial cor­po­rate spon­sor, who could po­ten­tially be­come part of the team in tak­ing Row­ing into the next level. The 32nd Na­tional Row­ing Cham­pi­onship will be the fi­nal of big­gest events in the an­nual cal­en­dar of the Am­a­teur Row­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of Sri Lanka.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Sri Lanka

© PressReader. All rights reserved.