The countdown to the 50th Anniversary Army Athletics Championship Tournament, supplemented with a Grand Exhibition, Launch of a new book on Army Athletics, Issue of a First-day Stamp Cover and a Felicitation Ceremony, has begun with dates fixed for November 26 - 28 for inter-regiment events at Sugathadasa National Stadium, Colombo 13.
Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake, attending a special Press Conference at Sri Lanka Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (SLEME), organized by Sri Lanka Army Athletic Committee, spelt out the chain of elaborate arrangements that have been organized to mark this turning point in the history of Army athletics and the catalogue of unparallel athletic achievements that have been so far made, bringing laurels to the Army as well as to the country.
Lieutenant General Ratnayake himself a keen athlete, who has remained a tower of strength to the Army field of athletics for more than two decades, said that more than a thousand of school students, interested in athletics from Jaffna, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Polonnaruwa and various other remote areas, are to be facilitated to witness the entire tournament during three days for the first time as a new anniversary feature. The Commander further said such facilitating measures would definitely motivate young and budding athletes across the island.
Approximately 750 athletes of the Army are to take part in this year’s memorable tournament in the company of more than 20 Army-produced reputed athletes who have brought Gold, Silver and Bronze medals home after competing in many an international athletic meet.
Since the inception of the Army Athletics Committee in 1950, chaired by Lieutenant Duncan White who bagged the first-ever Olympic Medal for Sri Lanka, Army athletes in many international meets, including Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, South Asian Sports Meet, World Defence Services Athletic Meet, etc, have so far succeeded in securing 29 Gold medals, 37 Silver medals and 28 Bronze medals, a record achievement which no other single establishment has attained to-date.
This year’s 50th Anniversary commemorative ceremonies begin with the inaugural sessions (Nov 26) and end with the closing sessions (Nov 28) where the Commander of the Army and the Prime Minister are expected to grace as Chief Guests respectively during both days separately.
This year’s tournament consists of marathon runs, javelin throw, discus throw, triple jump, relay, long jump, shot putt, high jump, race walking, pole vault, 110 hurdle, medley relay, hammer throw, tug of war, etc, many of which are also competed by woman athletes.
Colourful Army Band displays, Physical Training displays, parachute shows, fireworks displays, etc are to add colour to both opening and closing ceremonies of the Athletic Championship Tournament.
The 50th Anniversary Photo Exhibition which depicts the historic life-span of the field of Army athletics, athletes and displays paraphernalia that have been used by those Army international medalists, will be on display to the public on all three days (Nov. 26, 27 & 28) at Sugathadasa Stadium.
The book, ‘Army Athletics’ that traces its roots to the times of old royalties and pictorially elaborates the string of achievements that have been hitherto made by Army athletes, has been printed in both Sinhala and English languages.
Compiled by the Army Athletics Committee, the book contains comprehensive information on Army national records, international records, etc, in addition to a collection of rare photos and all other minute details, regarding Army’s contribution to the promotion of Sri Lanka’s field of athletics.
This product of international standards is to be released during the grand felicitation ceremony, scheduled to be held on December 12 at Colombo Musaeus College auditorium where the Minister of Sports is expected to felicitate Army athletes who have made Army proud and those who have so far contributed to the success story of Army athletics.
Ceylon Biscuits Limited who has been the valuable sponsor for this event for over ten years presented its sponsorship cheque to the Commander at the same occasion.
Representatives of main sponsors for the tournament, Ceylon Biscuits Limited, Major General Amal Karunasekara, Chairman, Army Athletics Committee, Brigadier Jayantha Jayaweera, Director Media, several senior officers of the Army Athletics Committee were associated with Tuesday’s (19) Press Conference.