Police Athletes on show today

by Mike Andree
At 6.00 a.m. today (March28) the Road race runners (men) will be flagged off, from Wijerama Junction, to herald the start of the annual three-day Sri Lanka Police Athletic meet, which is being held after a lapse of two years. The women’s race will be flagged off from Nugegoda Junction.

This meet, which ends on March 30, will be held at the Police Park Grounds Bambalapitiya. It is organized by the Police Sports Division in order to encourage, uplift and appreciate the skills of talented sportsmen and sportswomen in the service.

At 6.30 a.m. today Inspector General of Police Lucky Kodituwakku will hoist the National Flag and the Police Flag while the Olympic torch is being lit. The Police band will be in attendance at the opening ceremony.

According to Superintendant of Police Lalith Lekamge, Director of Police Sports, the Challenge Cup for the best Athlete was presented in 1902. He said 600 male and 142 female athletes from 42 Divisions of the Police Force will be in action at this meet, which has a challenge trophy for each of the 48 events to be worked off. Successful athletes will also be awarded medals and certificates.

SP Lekamge will said the March Past will have 1400 participants and this time the grand finale will see a large number of competitors from the North and East.

In the recorded history of 135 years of dedicated service to the public, it is revealed that the Police Sports has received pride of place for nearly 100 years.

Annual athletic meets embracing Track and Field events among the athletes of the Police Service commenced in 1902. The Police sportsmeets then were held at the Race Course Grounds, Colombo in the month of January annually and arrangements were made for the general public to witness these events.

In 1911, a Marathon Walking race from the Mt. Lavinia Police Station to the Cinnamon Gardens Police Station was held. Twenty-six, including Police Sergeants and Police Constables participated in this inaugural walk, which was signalled off by the then Inspector General of Police H. L. Dowbiggin. This event had been a great success among the sportsmen during that time and Police Constable Sadiyan won it.

A drill display was held by a team of Swedish Nationals at the Meet held in 1912. These facts indicate that Police Athletic meets had been conducted on a grand scale in the times past.

Consequent to requests made from time to time, by Messrs. C. C. Longdon and Ivor Edward David, who functioned as Inspectors General of Police at that time, from the government to obtain a separate playground to promote the sports activities of sportsmen and sportswomen of the service, a block of land 6 1/2 acres in extent had been allocated at Bambalapitiya, Colombo 05. This ground which was improved from time to time is now known as the Police Park Grounds Bambalapitiya.

This article would not be complete without the mention of some of those who contributed immensely towards the enhancement of Police Athletics: C. C. Dissanayake - DIG, P. C. Dep - DIG, M. C. Mendis - DIG, K. Sathkunarajah - DIG - C. E. Hemachandra - DIG, R. K. Karunasena - DIG, P. Mahandran - DIG, M. C. N. Fernando - SSP, T. C. Barthalot - ASP, N. A. T. Jayasooriya - CI, Oswald Rajapaksha - IP, Dharijan - IP, Damith Silva - SI.

Apart from the participation by Police Officers of various ranks, the meet is being made more colourful by the participation of invitation relay teams from leading athletic clubs as well as athletic events that are specially tailored for the civilian staff of the Police Force.

The closing ceremony and presentation of awards, which is scheduled to be held on 30th March, 2001 will be under the patronage of Prime Minister, Minister of Buddha Sasana, Religious Affairs & Plantation Industries, Ratnasiri Wickramanayake.