by Dhammika Ratnaweera
P. H. D. Waidyatilleka is no stranger to
athletics. Former champion hurdler is now an official. He is
attached to the athletic technical field. "We do not have a
proper second string athletics team. But we can’t blame any
administrators. One president tried to start a programme to
develop a second string. When new office bearers were elected
they did not continuethe plan. Most countries have five to ten
year plans to build up athletes. But we lack good plannin," said
the Vice President of the Amateur Athletic Association, P. H. D.
Waidyatilaka. He is a Chartered Civil Engineer by profession but
associated with athletics.
The only Sri Lankan to be qualified as an
International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) lecturer and an
International Technical official, ‘Waidya’ is the Chairman of
Technical Committee. It has already conducted several technical
seminars and exams, both here and abroad. Challenged by a former
Sports Minister in 1995, he conducted a technical exam and
released the results within a month.
In 1997, Waidya introduced the Tamil medium
for the echnical officials’ exam for the first time in Sri
Lanka. He also introduced a new grading and promotion scheme for
technical officials. The qualified technical officer he is,
Waidya conducted seminars in various districts and also held
islan-wide exams for Classes 2, 3 and 4. Waidya insists that
the: "Technical side of the sport is important and we have to
get proper knowledge on that score".
Waidyathilaka had an illustrious career at
Richmond College, Galle and later at Nalanda College, Colombo
before entering the Colombo University. He was a Public Schools’
Junior Hurdles Champion in 1958 while at Richmond. He later was
the Public Schools’Senior Hurdles Champion in 1961. He was the
Junior Nationals 110 hurdles Champion in the same year in 1961.
He excelled at the Colombo University from 1962-1966 and was the
champion athlete carrying away all trophies with top
After he left the University as a Civil
Engineer he was completely out of athletic s due professional
work. Waidya was appointed a committee member of the Amateur
Athletic Association (AAA) in 1986. Minister Lalith
Athulathmudali was the AAA president at the time.
In 1964 he became the Vice President and
since the he has been serving as a Vice President of the AAA,
except for oa year or two. In the 1991 SAF Games, Waidya was the
head of all technical officials. He did a great job in the 1992
AAA Interim Committee as Secretary. "After a lapse of five years
we conducted the Junior National Championships.We invited
foreign athletes to take part in senior Nationals. Pakistan,
Bangladesh and Indian athletes came here".
He got the opportunity to follow the
technical official’s course conducted by the IAAF in 1991 and
was successful at the exam. Since then he has been involved with
the technical aspects of athletics. He came first in Asia in the
IAAF level lectures’ exam held in Jakartha in 1995. Once again
he was first in Asia in the Technical Officials’ exam held in
Singapore in 1997.
He once again was first in Asia at the
International Technical Officers’ exam held in Singapore in
Waidya said: I had the good fortune to
conduct the IAAF One course in Kathmandu in Nepal in 1999,
followed by IAAF lecturers’ course in Jakartha in 2002. I am
lucky to conduct the first-ever Technical Officials’ Course for
International Masters officials in Bangkok last year."
Waidya has international experience as a
technical official since1991. Waidya said he will never forgot
the 2003 World Championships in Paris. As a technical officer,
Waidya disqualified the renowned athlete Jon Drummond of the USA
in the100m. Waidya said: "Drummond refused to leave the track
and delayed the event by nearly an hour. But I stood my ground
and didn’t give in. Later Waidya was highly commended by the
IAAF officials and made headlines in media. Other officials
chipped in to say: "The Asian had guts to disqualify the
In 1986 Sri Lanka formed the Veterans’
Athletic Association. Since then Waidya has been doing his best
to develop the Masters’ athletics.
This time Waidya was elected President (
uncopntested) of the Masters’ Association for the third
consecutive year. Waidya says: "We won 75 medals in the last
year Asian Masters’ Athletic meet in Bangkok. This was a big
achievement at any level. We are well organised. Soon we expect
to conduct the Asian Masters’ Athletic Championships in Sri
Lanka for the first time. But we have a difficult task preparing
for the SAF games in Sri Lanka next April. We conducted a
successful SAF Games in 1991 and the Asian Athletic
Championships in 2002".
Waidya concluded: " We need to work as a team
and co-ordinate our programme to meet with success. If personal
ambitions come in the way, all will be lost."