All ready for the big splash at Diyawanna
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.